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^t Stepl[)eti, atiot 




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Printed by S. & J. Bentley, Wilson, and Fley, 

Bangor House, Shoe Lane. 


The following pages were printed with the view of 
forming one of a series of Lives of English Saints, 
according to a prospectus which appeared in the course 
of last autumn, but which has since, for private reasons, 
been superseded. As it is not the only work undertaken 
in pursuance of the plan then in contemplation, it is 
probable, that, should it meet with success, other Lives, 
now partly written, will be published in a similar form 
by their respective authors on their own responsibility. 

The Author wishes me to notice that since his Life 
of St. Stephen has been in type, he has discovered that 
he has partly gone over the same ground as the learned 
Mr. Maitland in his Papers on the Dark Ages. In con- 
sequence, as might have been expected, the same facts 
in many instances occur in both. 

J. H. N. 


January, 1844. 



I. Stephen in his Youth 1 

II. Stephen at Molesme 12 

III. Molesme degenerates 19 

IV. Removal from Molesme 29 

V. Arrival at Citeaux 35 

VL Stephen as Prior 42 

VII. Cistercian Usages 53 

VIII. The Times of Alberic 70 

IX. The Death of Alberic 77 

X. Stephen as Abbot 81 

XI. Stephen in Times of Want 89 

XII. The Mortalit}^ at Citeaux 95 

XIII. The Arrival of Novices 103 

XIV. Citeaux edifies the World 116 

XV. A Day at Citeaux 120 

XVI. Stephen and Bernard 142 

XVII. Stephen creates an Order ^ 150 

XVIII. Abbot Suger 163 

XIX. Troubles in the Church 174 

XX. Death of Stephen 183 


ABBOT OF CITEAUX, AB. 1066 — 1134, 

And founder of tlie Cistercian Order, 



Holy men of old who have written the lives of Saints, 
universally begin by professing their unworthiness to 
be the historians of the marvellous deeds which the 
Holy Spirit has wrought in the Church. What then 
should we say, who in these miserable times, from the 
bosom of our quiet homes, or in the midst of our lite- 
rary ease, venture to celebrate the glories of the Saints ^ 
We have much that is amiable and domestic amongst 
us, but Saints, the genuine creation of the cross, with 
their supernatural virtues, are now to us a matter of 
history. Nay, we cannot give up all for Christ, if we 
would ', and while other portions of the Church can 
suffer for His sake, we must find our cross in sitting 
still, to watch in patience the struggle which is going on 
about us. Yet while we wait for better days, we may 
comfort ourselves with the contemplation of what her 
sons once were, and admire their virtues, though we 
have not the power, even though we had the will, to 

imitate them. The English character has an earnest- 



ness and reality about it, capable of appreciating and of 
following out the most perfect way. Not only was the 
whole island once covered with fair monasteries, but it 
sent forth into foreign lands men who became the light 
of foreign monastic orders. Thus the Saint, whose life 
we have undertaken to write, was one of the first foun- 
ders of the Cistercian order, and the spiritual father of 
St. Bernard. Little as is known of the early years of 
St. Stephen, all his historians especially dwell on one 
fact, that he was an Englishman. The date and place 
of his birth, and the names of his parents, are alike un- 
known ; but his name, Harding, seems to show that he 
was of Saxon blood, and he is said to have been of noble 
birth ; it also seems probable that he was born rather 
before than after the Norman conquest. His earthly 
parentage, and all that he had given up for Christ's sake, 
is forgotten ; and he first appears as a boy, brought up 
from his earliest years ^ in. the monastery of Sherborne, 
in Dorsetshire. The rule of St. Benedict " allows parents 
to offer up children under fourteen years of age at God's 
altar, to serve Him to the end of their days in the 
cloister. In those lawless times, when temptations to 
acts of violence and rapine and reckless profligacy were 
so great, holy parents thought that they could not better 
protect the purity of their children than by placing them 
at once under the shadow of a monastery. Just as they 
had already in their name taken the solemn vows of 
baptism at the font, so they brought their children into 
the church of the convent, led them up into the sanc- 
tuary, and wrapping their hands in the linen cloth 
which covered the altar, gave them up solemnly to the 
service of God. At the same time, they took an oath 
never to endow them with any of their goods ; they then 

^ William of Malmesbury, Gest. Reg. Angl. lib. iv. ^ C. 59. 


left them with perfect security in the keeping of the 
superior, to follow their Lord with a light step, unen- 
cumbered by worldly possessions. The discipline to 
which St. Stephen was thus subjected from his earliest 
years, was of the most careful kind. No prince could 
be brought up with greater care in a king's palace, than 
were these children offered up in the monastery, whether 
they were noble or low-born. The greatest pains were 
taken that the sight and even the knowledge of evil 
should be kept from them; they were instructed in 
reading, writing, and religious learning, but above all in 
music and psalmody. But the greater portion of their 
time was spent in the services of the Church, in which 
various constitutions of the order appoint them a princi- 
pal part. Stephen thus spent his childhood, like Samuel, 
in the courts of the Lord's house, amidst the beauty and 
variety of the ceremonies with which the peaceful round 
of monastic life was diversified. About a hundred years 
before his time, St. Dunstan had roused anew the spirit 
of the Benedictines in England, which had in many 
places fallen into decay ; and according to his consti- 
tutions the monastery of Sherborne was governed. In 
every part of his minute rules for the order of divine 
service, the part of the children brought up in the con- 
vent appears foremost; and there is a joyousness, and 
at the same time a sort of homeliness in some of them, 
which shows how much he consulted the English cha- 
racter. All the uproarious merriment of the nation he 
tames down by turning it into something ecclesiastical. 
Bell-ringing, for instance, is ever occurring in his rule, 
and in one place it directs that at mass, nocturns, and 
vespers, from the Feast of the Innocents till the Cir- 
cumcision, all the bells should be rung, as was the 
custom in England ; " for the honest and godly customs 


of this country, which we have learnt from the wont of 
our ancestors, we have determined hy no means to re- 
ject, but in every case to confirm them^." Processions 
also from church to church, when the weather was fine, 
were frequent; and these were often headed by the chil- 
dren of the monastery. Thus on Palm Sunday the 
whole community quitted the convent walls, and walked 
in procession, clad in albs, to some neighbouring church, 
with the children at their head. On arriving at their 
destination, the palms were blessed and the young cho- 
risters entoned the antiphons, and all quitted the church 
with palms in their hands. On returning to the church, 
the procession stopped before the porch, and the chil- 
dren, who walked first, chanted the Gloria Laus, after 
which, as the response Ingrediente Domino was raised 
by the cantor, the doors of the church were thrown open, 
and the whole line moved in to hear Mass. Such scenes 
as these must have sunk deep into a mind like Stephen's, 
and he might have lived and died in the peaceful monas- 
tery of Sherborne. But God had other designs for His 
servant, and in his youth he quitted the convent for the 
sake of finishing his studies. From the words of St. 
Benedict's rule, it seems to have been intended that 
children received into a monastery should be considered 
as having taken the vows through their parents, and as 
dedicated to GU)d until their life's end. Monastic dis- 
cipline was not then considered so dreadful as it is now 
thought to have been; nor was this world looked upon 
as so very sweet that it was an act of madness to quit 
it for God's service. Rather, they were thought happy, 
to whom God had given the grace of a monastic vocation, 
and they surely were called by Him to the happy seclu- 
sion of the cloister, who were placed there by their 
3 Reff. Cone. c. 3. 


parents' will ; just as now we find that the wish of a 
father and mother decide on the profession or state of 
life of their child. Besides, monastic vows are in one 
sense only the completion of the vows of baptism; and 
it was not thought unnatural that those who, while the 
child was perfectly unconscious, placed him in the awful 
contact with the world unseen, implied by baptism, 
should also put him in the way of best fulfilling the 
vows to which they themselves had bound him in his 
infancy. This was probably St. Benedict's view; but 
before Stephen's time, custom had in some cases relaxed 
the rule. St. Benedict seems not to have contemplated 
the case of a monk's ever leaving his monastery, except 
when despatched on the business of the convent. Each 
religious house was to be perfect in itself, and to contain, 
if possible, all the necessary arts of life, so that its 
inmates need very rarely go beyond its walls. Least of 
all does he seem to have thought that a monk could 
quit the cloister for the acquisition of learning ; the end 
of monastic life was to follow Christ in perfect poverty 
and obedience ; monks tilled the ground with their own 
hands, and wrought their food out of the hard soil by 
the sweat of their brow ; they were therefore in very 
many cases what we should call rude and ignorant men, 
unskilled in worldly learning, though well versed in the 
science of divine contemplation. The natural force of 
circumstances, however, made the cloister the rallying- 
point of learning, and monks often quitted their own 
convents in order to perfect themselves in the sciences ^. 

^ Instances will be found in Mabillon, Tract, de Studiis monas- 
ticis, c. 16. In the Cistercian order Otto of Frisingen was sent to 
Paris after his profession, and that from Morimond, a monastery- 
founded by and under the control of St. Stephen. Manriquez, 
1127. 2. V. also the case of St. Wilfrid ; Bede, Eccl. Hist. v. 20. 


The active mind of Stephen longed for more than the 
poor monastery of Sherborne could afford him. He 
first travelled into Scotland, which at that time was the 
general refuge of all of Saxon race from the power of 
the Conqueror. It was governed by Malcolm III., who 
in 1070 married Margaret, a daughter of the English 
blood royal, and the grand-niece of St. Edward the 
Confessor. Her gentle virtues smoothed the rough 
manners of the nation, and the Jioly austerity of her life 
gave her such an ascendancy over them, that she banished 
many horrid customs which Christianity had as yet failed 
in uprooting. It was probably the peace which her 
holiness shed around her in Scotland which attracted 
Stephen thither; it formed a favourable contrast to the 
distracted state of England, which was suffering from the 
effects of the Conquest, and where a Saxon monastery 
could not be safe from the aggressions of their Norman 
lord. From Scotland he bent his steps to Paris. 

Up to this time Stephen's life had been one of tran- 
quillity, spent in the peace of a monastery or in the 
acquisition of learning. But he seems now to be enter- 
ing on the rougher portion of his career ; he had not yet 
found out his vocation, and with that untiring energy, of 
which his after-life showed so many proofs, was looking 
out for it. He was the disciple of a crucified Lord, and 
his brethren all through the world were fighting; how 
then could he rest in peace 1 He left Paris and under- 
took a pilgrimage to Rome, at that time a journey of 
great danger and difficulty, when the roads were not 
smoothed by all the contrivances of modern travelling. 
Forests had not been cleared nor mountains cut through; 
and the towns and villages were far distant from each 
other, so that the poor pilgrims had often to depend on 
the hospitality of the monks and religious houses to find 


food and a night's rest after a long day's journey on foot 
or on horseback. A heavy rain was a most serious 
inconvenience, for it converted the road into a deep 
mass of mud^, flooded the rivers and broke down the 
bridges. Another great danger was the bands of robbers 
who infested the forests, and the frequent ware which 
devastated the lands. The castle of a lawless baron or 
an encounter with any of the numerous bands of soldiers 
which crossed the country in every direction in war time, 
was a most serious obstacle to the defenceless traveller; 
no religious character could protect him, for we find 
that monasteries were burnt and churches pillaged with 
as little scruple as if the combatants were heathen 
Normans instead of Christians. On one occasion all 
the bishops and abbots of France were attacked on their 
way from the council of Pisa, by some petty lord ; 
some thrown from their mules, some detained prisoners, 
and all rifled and plundered, notwithstanding their sacred 
character, A lonely pilgrim like Stephen would not 
be likely to find much mercy at such hands : unde- 
terred by the dangers of the way, he set out with but 
one companion, a clerk, whose name is unknown. Eome 
was the bourn to which the heart of all Englishmen natu- 
rally turned at that day across the wide tract of land and 
sea which separated them. Stephen had the thoughts of 
many illustrious examples before him to cheer him on 
his way; many a Saxon king had laid aside his crown 
and gone to assume the monastic habit at Rome. The 
venerable Bede, in relating one of these events, says, that 
it was only what many of the English, noble and low- 
born, clerks and laymen, men and women, vied with each 
other in doing^; and their enthusiastic feelings are 

5 Petrus Ven. Ep. 6, 46. « Bede, Eccl. Hist. v. 7. 


recorded in that saying which occurs so strangely in 
Bede's Collectanea^, or Common-place Book, " When the 
Coliseum falls, Bome shall fall ; when Bome falls, the 
world shall fall." England had never forgotten, that 
whatever Bome might be to the rest of the world, it 
was her mother church; from the earliest times there 
was an English school in Bome, and some Saxon king, 
tradition said Ina, had built a church dedicated to the 
Blessed Virgin, which belonged to the English, and 
where Saxon pilgrims who died at Bome were buried. 
Stephen was therefore as much at home in St. Peter's 
when once he got to Bome, as he would have been in 
Westminster Abbey; recollections of his native kings 
would meet him wherever he went : there he might 
see the place where Alfred, when a boy of seven years 
old, was anointed king by Leo IV. ; and in " the street 
of the Saxons," where the English pilgrims lived, stood 
St. Mary's church, in which was the tomb of Burrhed, 
the last of the Mercian princes. Stephen, on his way to 
Bome, never forgot that he was a monk ; it was no idle 
curiosity which led him so far over the sea and across 
the Alps. It was to imitate to the letter the life of Him 
who came down from heaven to be a poor man, and who 
had not where to lay His head ; he thus courted cold and 
hunger and nakedness, that he might follow step by step 
the Virgin Lamb, as a stranger and pilgrim upon earth. 
In these times, an Englishman in quitting his country 
finds, instead of the one home everywhere, altars at which 
he can only kneel as an alien, and travelling is therefore 
to us generally a source of dissipation. Stephen, how- 
ever, found brethren wherever he went, from the parish 
church and the wayside chapel to the cathedral of the 
metropolitan city. 

7 Bede, ed. Col. torn. iii. 483. 


^Still the bustle of moving from place to place, and a 
perpetual change of scene, are apt under the best cir- 
cumstances to distract the mind from that state of 
habitual devotion in which it ought to rest. Good 
habits are very hard to gain, but very easy to lose ; 
and nothing is so likely to destroy them as a mode of 
life in which every turn of the road developes something 
new. To guard against this danger, our pilgrims set 
themselves a rule, which none but the most ardent devo- 
tion could conceive. Throughout the whole of their long 
journey, whether they were in a crowded city, in the wilds 
of a forest, or clambering up the Alps, they recited toge- 
ther daily the whole of the Psalter. At the same time it 
is expressly said that they did not neglect the works of 
mercy which God gave them an opportunity of doing. 
Thus they went on their way chanting the praises of God, 
and walking with a joyful heart over the thorns and briers 
which obstructed their path ; doing good as they went 
to their fellow-pilgrims, and to all sufferers, of whom in 
those times of violence there was no lack. The road 
which they travelled was not an unfrequented one ; and 
they might have found much to distract their attention 
if they had chosen to detach their minds from their holy 
occupation. They not only met the lowly pilgrim who, 
like themselves, had left his home out of devotion ; but 
many a bishop and abbot, too often with a lordly train, 
hastening to have his cause judged at Eome, would 
overtake and pass them by; or else they would meet 
the young clerk, high in hopes, going to seek his fortune 
as an adventurer at the Roman court^. Many a more 
congenial companion, however, travelled the same way; 

^ V. Hildebertus, Ep. 3, 24, for a specimen of a letter of recom- 
mendation to the papal court. 


their alternate chanting of the Psalms was at least not 
so singular as to be ostentatious ; at each of the hours, 
the monk was bound to descend from his horse, pulled 
off his gloves and his cowl, and, falling on his knees, 
made the sign of the cross ; then, after saying the Pater 
Noster, Deus in adjutorium, and Gloria Patri, he 
mounted his horse and finished the office on horseback^ 
English monks especially, when they travelled, said the 
usual night hours during the day, so that other voices 
besides those of our pilgrims were heard chanting in the 
open air, as they journeyed to Rome. There were pil- 
grims of another sort, who, unlike Stephen and his com- 
panion, had undertaken the journey to expiate some 
dreadful crime ; some even walked with small and 
cutting chains of iron round their bodies^, in hopes of 
obtaining absolution from the successor of St. Peter. 

There was then many an object, both good and bad, to 
arrest the attention of our pilgrims on the way, and to 
call for their sympathy. The road to Rome was an 
indication of what the city was itself; it was the head of 
the Catholic Church, and, like the Church, had both a 
heavenly and an earthly aspect. In one sense it was 
Christ's kingdom, holding in its hands His interests, and 
dispensing His mysteries ; in another sense it was an 
earthly kingdom, with earthly interests and intrigues, the 
rich, powerful, and intellectual thronging its gates and 
endeavouring to gain the honours and the wealth which 
it had to dispense : and then again through this motley 
scene, it was Christ's kingdom working, and bringing 
good out of the selfishness and the avarice of men, to 
the wonder of the angels who look on. It was in this 
twofold point of view that Rome was looked upon in 

^ Statuta Lanfranci, c. 15. ^ Ducange, Peregrinatio. 


Stephen's time ; thus, on the one hand, William of 
Malmesbury^, a contemporary writer, speaks in bitter 
terms of the Romans, as " the laziest of men, bartering 
justice for gold, selling the rule of the canons for a 
price;" and in the next page he goes on to enumerate 
with enthusiasm its heavenly treasures, the bodies of 
numberless martyrs, who rested in its bosom. If ever 
there was a turbulent seditious populace, it was that of 
Rome ; its nobles, fierce and bloody tyrants ; its cardinals, 
too often purpled princes ; but then too it was the prin- 
cipal treasure-house of Christ's blessings on earth, the 
centre of Catholic communion, and the rallying-point of 
all that was good ; and if sometimes the side of injustice, 
amidst the multiplicity of causes which flowed into it, 
triumphed, still there was a mighty energy in its good, 
which at length brought good out of evil ; and at all 
events there was ever room for the poor pilgrim to 
kneel at the tomb of the Apostles, from whence he went 
back on his way rejoicing. This was Stephen's object 
in going to Rome ; he thought that his prayers would 
be most likely to be heard if he knelt near that body 
the very shadow of which healed the sick, and which 
was often so close to our most blessed Lord ; and again 
at the tomb which contained that precious body which 
gave virtue to handkerchiefs and aprons, and which bore 
the marks of the Lord Jesus, and by its suiFerings had 
filled up what was behindhand of the afilictions of our 
Lord for His Church's sake. How Stephen's prayers 
were answered, we shall soon see. 

2 Lib. iv. Gest. Reg. Angl. 




Stephen was returning from his pilgrimage with his 
faithful companion, probably on his way back to Sher- 
borne, when God conducted his steps to the place which 
was to be the scene of his labours. As he was travel- 
ling through a dark forest in the diocese of Langres in 
Burgundy^j he came to a poor monastery situated on 
the side of a sloping hill, on the right bank of the little 
river Leignes. It could hardly be called a monastery, 
for it was a collection of huts, built by the monks them- 
selves, of the boughs of trees, which they had cut down 
with their own hands, surrounding a small wooden 
oratory. Around this little knot of huts, more like an 
encampment than a settled dwelling, was an open space 
in the forest, which the monks had cleared, and which 
had been given them by a neighbouring baron. The 
brethren had no means of subsistence but the produce of 
this piece of ground, which they tilled with their own 
hands, and they were as much dependent upon it as the 
poorest serf who gained his own livelihood by the sweat 
of his brow; yet amongst this poor brotherhood were 
men of noble birth and of high intellectual attainments. 
The monastery had only been established a short time^ 
and was struggling with all the difficulties which beset 
an infant community. Its history is a curious one, 
as showing how the reckless fury of the times was 

^ As late as Martenne's time, the road to Molesme was so intri- 
cate, that he and his companions lost their way in the wood, and 
only arrived at the convent-gate very late at night. Voy. Litt. 
part i. p. 185. 


beaten down by an element of good even more energetic 
than the evil which it had to encounter. Two brothers 
of noble birth were one day riding through a solitary 
place in a forest not far from Molesme, called the forest 
of Golan ; both were armed, for they were riding to take 
part in a tournament, — a species of festivity, which, with 
all its pageantry, its flutter of pennons and glittering of 
armour, was soon after condemned in strong terms by the 
Church^. They were both worldly men, whose only object 
was honour, in the pursuit of which they feared neither 
God nor man. As they were journeying on, the devil, aided 
by the solitude and darkness of the place, suggested horrid 
thoughts to each of them — of murdering the other in 
order to obtain his inheritance, and it cost them a strug- 
gle to put the temptation down. Shortly afterwards, on 
returning from the tournament, they passed through the 
same place. The wicked thoughts which had attacked 
them in that spot rose to the mind of each, and each 
trembled secretly at the dreadful power which Satan 
possessed over his mind. Without revealing to each 
other their fears, they both hastened to the hut of a holy 
priest, who lived a hermit's life in the depths of the 
forest and separately confessed their sin. They then 
revealed to each other the dreadful thoughts which had 
crossed their minds, and recognizing that they could not 
serve God and Mammon, but must either be like devils 
in wickedness, or saints in holiness, they agreed to quit 
the world with all its honours, and to live in the forest 
under the direction of the holy hermit. The world soon 
heard of the conversion of these noble youths, who had 
quitted everything that it holds dear, to embrace a 
voluntary poverty, and to live a life of painful disci- 

^ St. Bern. Ep. 3/6. Cone. Lat. ii. Canon 14. 


pline ; and a few others were induced to follow their 
example. At first they lived the life rather of hermits 
than of coenobites ; afterwards, as their number in- 
creased to seven, they determined on adopting the rule 
of St. Benedict, and looked around them for some one 
to instruct them in it. They turned their eyes on 
Robert, then Abbot of St. Michel de Tonnere, a monas- 
tery near the town of Tonnere, on the borders of Cham- 
pagne and Burgundy. Robert, however, was at that time 
unable to leave his post, and the hermits of Colan were 
disappointed in their hopes of obtaining him. Not long 
after, however, he was compelled to leave St. Michel 
by the incorrigibly bad lives of the monks, and to return 
to Celle near Troyes, his original monastery, from whence 
he was soon elected Prior of St. Aigulphus. At this 
place the hermits again sought him, and this time they 
applied to Rome for an order from the pope, command- 
ing him to undertake the direction of them. Alexander 
II., the then reigning pontiff, pleased with their per- 
severing zeal, granted their request, and Robert quitted 
St. Aigulphus to preside over this infant community. 
Under his guidance they gained frequent accessions to 
the brotherhood ; and when at last their numbers 
amounted to thirteen, St. Robert saw fit to remove 
their habitation from the forest of Colan to Molesme. 
The new monastery was founded in honour of the 
Blessed Virgin, on Sunday, the 20 th of December, a.d. 
1075. It was here that Stephen found the community, 
and he at once felt that he had reached the end of his 
wanderings. The place certainly had nothing tempting 
to common eyes. It is easy to conceive a person falling 
in love with what may be called the romance of monas- 
tic life : splendid architecture, a beautiful ceremonial, 
and, above all, religious peace and an absence of worldly 


cares, are the legitimate compensations for all that 
monks give up for Christ's sake. But at Molesme 
even these attractions were wanting. The monks, like 
St. Paul, worked with their own hands to get their daily 
bread ; and so poor were they, that even this was often 
lacking, and they were obliged at times to live wholly 
on vegetables. They were visibly dependent on God's 
providence for their daily bread ; and seeking first the 
kingdom of God, they trusted that their scanty food and 
raiment would be added to them. It was their poverty 
which attracted Stephen ; these few men serving God 
in the wild of the forest were the very realization of the 
new order of things which was brought in by the cross 
of Christ, by which weakness was made strength and 
suffering sanctified to bring joy. They were the salt 
of the earth, preserving it from corruption by their 
supernatural virtues, and averting the anger of God 
from the sinful world. Here he found St. Benedict's 
rule carried out to the letter without any of the relaxa- 
tions which had crept in through the lapse of time, and 
this we know from every one of Stephen's subsequent 
actions was the state of life at which he aimed in his 
own person, and which he tried to establish in others. 
This probably was the object of his prayers at St. Peter's 
tomb, and now they were answered, for he had thus 
lighted unexpectedly upon a place where he could follow 
after that perfection, which he had already conceived in 
his heart-^. 

In thus quitting his original monastery and entering 
another, he was in no way violating his rule, for St. 
Benedict expressly allows an abbot to receive a monk 
of any distant monastery which was unknown to him ; 

5 Manriquez, Ann. Cist. Introd. c. 2, conjeptures that he made 
a vow at Rome to embrace a more perfect mode of life. 


that is, as it is interpreted, he excludes monasteries 
which are so near as to admit of intercourse. But there 
was another difficulty, which it cost Stephen a painful 
struggle with himself to overcome. The devil often 
gathers all his powers to give battle to great saints, 
when thej are on the eve of doing some action which 
is to be the turning-point of their lives ; and so it was 
with Stephen. He felt a most bitter pang at parting from 
the clerk who had been the faithful companion of his 
pilgrimage. His affectionate heart, which from his 
early consecration to God's service at Sherborne, could 
hardly have known the love of father, mother, brethren, 
or sisters, had, it seems, fixed itself so firmly on his 
friend, that now it was with great difficulty that he 
could tear himself away. He, however, vanquished in 
the struggle, and remained behind at Molesme, while 
his friend passed on. For this one friend whom he 
gave up, he at once found two others, in Kobert and 
Alberic, the abbot and prior of Molesme. Both of 
them were his companions in the more arduous strug- 
gles of his after-life ; both have been, with him, held up 
by the Church to the veneration of the faithful, among the 
Saints ; and it was their joint work which he was after- 
wards left on earth to complete. When, however, 
Stephen joined them at Molesme, they were but sim- 
ple monks unknown to the world. Robert, the spi- 
ritual father of both Alberic and Stephen, was of one of 
the noblest families of Champagne ; he had been a monk 
from a very early age, and had been distinguished for 
his adherence to the strict rule of St. Benedict ; he had 
quitted the government of the abbey of St. Michel, as 
we have said above, and retired into a private station 
because of the incorrigible laxity of the monks. Alberic 
was one of the original seven hermits of Colan j he is 


described in the early history of Citeaux, as " a man of 
learning, well skilled in things both divine and human, 
a lover of the rule and of the brethren^." These two 
walked hand in hand with Stephen, in all the trials in 
w^hich they soon found themselves involved. The 
monastery at times suffered from actual want ; from the 
loneliness of the spot and the fewness of visitors, they 
were quite forgotten by the world, and the alms of the 
faithful were turned into other channels. They con- 
tinued however in cheerful faith, winning their liveli- 
hood out of the hard ground, and feeling sure that God 
would not desert them; and, indeed, they found that 
their faith was not misplaced. One day, as they were 
about to sit down to a scanty meal, after the hard labour 
of the day, the Bishop of Troyes arrived at the monas- 
tery with a considerable retinue. The poor monks felt 
ashamed that they could so miserably supply the needs 
of their illustrious visitor, but cheerfully divided with 
him their hard-won meal. The bishop went away from 
the monastery, wondering at the fervent piety of its in- 
mates. For a long time nothing came of this visit, and 
the monks had probably forgotten it. Meanwhile the 
resources of the community became daily more straiten- 
ed, till at last there were hardly provisions enough left 
to serve them for a few days. The brethren applied to 
St. Robert, and informed him of the state of the case. 
He bade them quietly trust in God, who would not 
leave his servants to perish in the solitude to which they 
had retired to serve Him. He ordered some of them to 
go to Troyes, which was much nearer to them than their 
own episcopal city of Langres, and bade them buy food, 
though he well knew that he had no money to give 

6 Exord. Parv. Cist. c. 9. 


them. The exact conformity of their lives to the very- 
letter of Scripture, made them look upon it as a solace 
and a counsel in the minutest points, in a way of which 
we have no conception ; thus the words of Isaiah rose to 
St. Robert's mind, " Ye who have no money, hasten, 
come, and buy7." Encouraged by the faith of their 
abbot, the monks set out on their apparently hopeless 
journey. So long had the good brethren kept away 
from the world, that they forgot the singularity of their 
appearance. They were therefore surprised on entering 
the city that their naked feet, coarse habit, and features 
so worn with toil and watching, that the fervent spirit 
seemed to shine through the flesh, attracted general at- 
tention. The news flew hastily round, till it reached 
the Bishop's palace. He ordered them to be brought to 
his presence, and as soon as they entered recognized his 
hosts of Molesme. He received them with joy, took off 
their tattered habits, and sent them back with his bless- 
ing, and a waggon loaded with clothes and bread for 
their poor brethren at home. We may fancy the joy of 
the community when they saw their messengers return, 
not empty-handed as they went, but laden with the 
blessings which God had given them, as it were with 
His own hand, to reward their faith. This seems to 
h'dve been nearly the last of their struggles with pover- 
ty, " for," says the monk who has written St. Robert's 
life^, " from that day forth there never was wanting to 
them a man to supply them with all that was necessary 
for food and clothing. And as they endured with the 
greatest constancy in God's service, many continually 
were added to their number, fugitives from the world, 
who leaving their earthly burdens, placed their necks 
under the yoke of the Lord." 

7 Isa. Iv. Vulg. 8 y^ BoUandists, April 29. 




The community of Molesme seemed now to be in a fair 
way of becoming the head of a new and flourishing con- 
gregation of the Benedictine order. It might even have 
rivalled Cluny, for many abbots prayed St. Robert to 
grant them some of his monks, by way of introducing 
into their own monasteries the reform of Molesme. It 
would have become what Citeaux was afterwards, had 
not the folly of the monks frustrated the designs of God. 
The various steps by which the change was effected in 
the convent, are not marked in the scanty annals of the 
time. The brethren appear at first in the story as 
saints in perfection, and a little farther on are repre- 
sented as degenerate. The change, however, took place 
on an increase of numbers and of wealth in the com- 
munity; it does not, therefore, at all follow that the 
original monks degenerated ; it was rather the second 
generation who broke in upon the strictness of the first. 
Again, it must be remembered, that strong expressions 
may be used, and rightly, about the corruption of monks, 
without implying the existence of gross impurity. A 
convent may degenerate into a lax and formal way of 
performing its duties, or it may be ruined by internal 
dissensions, without falling into vicious excesses. The 
most common commencement of corruption was a viola- 
tion of the rule of poverty, and this seems to have been 
the case at Molesme. The wealth which had accrued 
to them from the bounty of the faithful, had done away 


with the necessity of manual labour, and they refused 
to obey their abbot, who wished to keep it up as a 
portion of the discipline enjoined by the rule. Again, 
they insisted on keeping possession of parochial tithes, 
and they assumed habits of a richer and warmer sort 
than the rule allowed. They grounded their arguments 
on the general practice of monasteries about them, 
though it was opposed to the rule which they professed 
to follow. From the general state of monasticism at the 
period, it was quite evident that these dispensations, 
though sanctioned by precedent, and in themselves not 
incompatible with strictness of life, led in most cases in 
the end to laxity. On these grounds St. Robert op- 
posed these innovations ; and his opposition led to far- 
ther resistance from the monks ; they had first begun 
by despising the poverty of Christ, and they ended by 
disobeying their abbot. Poverty and obedience are the 
very soul of monasticism, and a convent which has once 
transgressed these two portions of the vow, is in a state 
next to hopeless. St. Robert saw that his presence 
only irritated his refractory children, and he deter- 
mined on leaving them, as St. Benedict and other saints 
had set him the example of doing, and retired to a 
place called Aurum, the habitation of certain hermits 9. 
This was a severe trial to Stephen; he had come to 
Molesme, because there he could serve Christ better 
than anywhere else, and he had for a time rejoiced in 
being able to follow the steps of his Divine Master. 
But he had gradually seen his brethren become worse 
and worse, till at last through their misconduct he was 
now abandoned by his spiritual guide. It is true, he did 

^ Mabillon, Ann. Ben. 69. 73, identifies this with a place called 
Hauz, where three hermits are said to have lived, and which was, in 
his time, a farm belonging to the monastery of Molesme. 


not himself follow the laxity which he saw around him, 
but this, though it might set his own conscience at rest, 
could not restore the peace of the brotherhood. The 
very object of the coenobitic life is, that all should obey 
the same rule, and do the same things, so that the zeal 
of one may kindle the other. The bond of charity 
was now broken, and the convent was in effect ruined. 
To add to his trial, he now found that a great portion of 
the charge of this unruly community was on his hands, 
. for Alberic, who as prior naturally took the government 
of the abbey in the absence of the abbot, invested him 
with a portion of his authority. He therefore set about 
his hopeless task; but how far he succeeded we may 
guess, from the treatment which the monks inflicted on 
his colleague. They seized on Alberic, who still en- 
deavoured to carry out Eobert's principles, beat him 
severely, and thrust him into a dungeon. On his 
release, Alberic determined to quit the monastery, and 
he was followed by Stephen and one or two other 
monks. Thus was Stephen cast upon the world, de- 
prived of all the guides which Providence had put into 
his way; so true is it, that we must not set our hearts, 
in this world, even on the good which God allows us to 
work. Good is to be loved, not because it is ours, but 
because it is to God's glory; when He wills that it 
should perish, we must not murmur, but keep our hearts 
still fixed upon Him, ready to do His will. 

Stephen was now, it may be said, his own master; 
the authorities of his convent, by abandoning it, had 
released him from his vow of obedience. He, however, 
did not choose for himself an easy lot ; he again sought 
the desert, and retired with Alberic and the other 
monks to a solitary place called Yivicus, now Vivier, 


near Landreville, about four leagues from Molesme^. 
God, however, did not leave His servant in this solitude. 
After he had been there for some time, gathering 
strength by prayer and fasting for the work which he 
was soon called upon to perform, it pleased Him to call 
him back from his retreat, to his old monastery. The 
monks soon discovered that the flower of the community 
was gone, and that they could not govern themselves 
without Eobert. It is probable that they were not 
thoroughly bad ; they did not wish to give up the strict 
abstinence enjoined by the rule ; it was rather the 
poverty which scandalized them ; they did not like the 
coarse habit and the hard manual labour, and wished to 
be like their neighbours. They therefore began to long 
for Robert's return, and knew not how to win him back 
from his retreat, after once driving him away by their 
misconduct, and then grossly ill-treating their prior in 
his absence. They at last determined to apply to the 
holy see, and succeeded in obtaining an order com- 
manding Robert to resume the command of the mo- 
nastery. The holy see appears to have been the great 
court of appeal of Christendom ; monks good and bad, 
bearded hermits, and mitred abbots, all brought their 
causes to Rome ; and if he could not aiford to travel in 
any other way, the poor brother trudged manfully across 
the Alps with his wallet on his back to obtain justice 
from the papal court. The jurisdiction of bishops over 
abbots was ill-defined, as may be seen by the indepen- 
dent way in which superiors left their monasteries, with- 
out apparently consulting their bishop. None, there- 
fore, but a power, which held its seat at a distance from 

1 Mabillon, Ann. Ben. 66. 100. 


the scene of action, and could not be accused of selfish 
views, was able to step in when ordinary authority 
failed. A mandate from Rome Robert could not refuse 
to obey, and he again put himself at the head of the 
refractory monks. Stephen and Alberic, with the other 
monks who had retired to Vivier, followed the example 
of their abbot, and the whole brotherhood was again 
united within the cloister of Molesme. The monks 
who had before rebelled, had either grown wiser, or 
been frightened into submission, and were ready to 
obey their abbot ; on the other hand, Robert had learned 
to deal more gently with them now that they were dis- 
posed to be submissive. The command of the pope 
had rendered it impossible to quit them a second time, 
without permission from Rome itself, or from a legate ; 
so that it was clearly his duty to manage their unruly 
spirits as best he could, and by concession in some par- 
ticulars to win them to keep the more essential por- 
tions of the rule. The monastery began again to 
flourish, and new convents were even placed under the 
jurisdiction of the abbot, and filled by monks of his 
choosing, who were to model the new community ac- 
cording to the reform introduced by him. 

Though, however, the harmony of the convent was 
thus restored, and external decency preserved, yet it 
was far from being a place where those who aspired 
after perfection could rest in peace ; the charm of holy 
poverty was gone, and many of the brethren of Molesme 
in secret regretted the changes which had taken place. 
The convent had ceased to be to them what it had been 
before ; the alms of the faithful had enriched it, and they 
regretted the wooden huts and oratory, and the poverty 
which had obliged them to work in the heat and in the 
cold, as is the appointed lot of poor men. The fore- 


most of their party was Stephen. Every morning the 
rule of St. Benedict was read in chapter, and he 
mourned in secret over the many departures from its 
holy dictates, of which the convent was guilty. To the 
generality of the world many of the commandments of 
Christ are precepts of perfection ; but to monks who have 
sworn to quit the world, they are precepts of obligation. 
In token of this, a monk in some convents was buried in 
his habit, with the rule of St. Benedict in his hand, to show 
that by that rule he was to stand or fall at the last day. 
For a long time, however, Stephen and his companions 
made no formal complaint, but bore their sorrows in 
silence. Much might be said against taking any steps 
to remedy the state of things which they saw around 
them. It was not by their fault that they transgressed 
their rule ; besides this, peace had but lately been 
restored to the monastery, and it was an invidious thing 
again to disturb the consciences of their brethren, which 
had so lately been set at rest. Again, each of them 
might think that the feelings which actuated him were 
merely the effect of his own restlessness, in which case 
it would be a far greater merit to obey in silence, than 
to afflict their bodies with fasting, and to walk about in 
coarse garments. 

Gradually, however, by comparing his views with 
those of his neighbour, each man found that he was not 
singular in thus feeling acutely the misery of their situa- 
tion. Stephen is said to have been the first to break 
the subject to Alberic^; his abhorrence of the dispen- 
sations and indulgences which the other monks claimed, 

^ Cum verbum innovandse religionis in eadem domo motum fuisset, 
ipse Stephanus primus inter primes ferventissimo studio laboravit 
ac modis omnibus institit ut locus et ordo Cisterciensis institueretur. 
— Exord. Mag. 


may appear to be merely the restless feelings of one 
accustomed to live in the wild solitudes of nature^ but 
they derive a meaning from the state of monasticism in 
his time. St. Benedict had in his rule left a power 
with the superior of altering or tempering the rule 
according to the circumstances of the convent. The 
natural course of things had led abbots to take advan- 
tage of this provision, and their alterations had in time 
considerably changed the monastic state. It does not 
at all follow that any one was to blame in this. An 
abbot was at first the superior of a few poor brethren, 
who worked for their own livelihood amongst the rocks 
of some wilderness, or in some hidden valley, and who 
only differed from common labourers in their singing 
psalms day and night, in their fasting every day, and 
praying every hour ; but the case was widely different 
when the same abbot was ruler over two or three hun- 
dred monks, and when the bounty of the faithful had 
made him the steward of the poor, by giving him wide 
lands and fair manors. The abbot became a temporal 
lord, with vassals under his command ; he had, more- 
over, to sit in councils, ecclesiastical and civil, besides 
going to Rome on the business of the abbey, and making 
a progress to visit his estates. Again, v my lord abbot, 
leading a solemn service with music and chanting un- 
der the canopy of his carved stall, or blessing the 
people from the altar with a jewelled mitre on his head, 
and a ring on his finger, was a very different person 
from the poor lord of a few acres in a desert, ruling 
over a few monks with a wooden staff like a shepherd's 
crook. Another change in monasteries was their appli- 
cation to learned purposes : St. Benedict's rule implies 
that many of the monks did not know how to read, and 


learnt the Psalter and divine office by heart ^j but 
monasteries, naturally, became the chief seats of learning, 
and often contained two schools, one within the cloister 
for the novices, the other without it, for secular pupils. 
This involved a library and an establishment for copy- 
ing manuscripts, so that manual labour might, in process 
of time, with propriety give place to literary labours. 
None of these changes involved a violation of the rule ; 
the abbot often wore a hair shirt under his splendid 
vestments, and slept upon a hard mattress of straw, 
stretched by the side of the magnificent state bed in his 
chamber. He was often really poor amidst the great 
wealth of the abbey, because the whole of the revenues 
which could be spared from the convent were given to 
the poor. In this way Cluny, in St. Hugh's time, seems 
to have been a wonderful and stately seminary, from 
which proceeded the great men of the age, rulers of 
churches, and even of the world, through their sanctity 
of life. Still with its magnificent church, and great 
revenues, it was not what it was before, the poor and 
simple religious house. It would be absurd to depre- 
ciate it on this account ; as well might one precious 
stone be blamed for not being another ; still it was a fact 
that it was changed ; there were dispensations from 
manual labour, and pittances in the refectory, and a 
stud of horses for the abbot and for the prior, even for 
each dean to ride away when he would, to visit his 
charge. Innocent as all this was, when such an abbot 
as St. Hugh governed Cluny, still it was a dangerous 
state ; a dispensing power is necessarily beside the law ; 
its limits are undefined, for it quits the broad line of 

3 Reg. St. Ben. c. 8. 57, 58, with Calmet's Comment. 


fact and precedent, and introduces moral questions, in 
which it is always difficult to determine the precise 
point where good begins to mix with evil. Thus the 
very next abbot to St. Hugh ruined Cluny for a time, 
and in Stephen's time very many monasteries were in a 
miserable state, on account of the laxity introduced by 
abbots under the name of dispensations. Stephen lived 
during the whole of the long struggle between the popes 
and the secular power ; and we shall see proofs in the sub- 
sequent actions of his life, that in the state of perplexity 
and confusion which ensued during that most momen- 
tous contest, pomp and luxury had power to invade 
even the cloister. Many were the innovations intro- 
duced under the name of dispensations, till hardly a 
vestige of the monastic character remained. Simony 
again brought with it intercourse with princes, pride, and 
luxury. We must not, therefore, wonder at Stephen's 
hatred of the very name of dispensation. 

Furthermore, we must recollect that Stephen had been 
a dweller in the wilderness and forest ; he aspired to 
the highest Christian perfection, so that he would not 
have been contented even with Cluny. Though a man 
of learning, he wished to become foolish for Christ's 
sake ; he wished to be perfectly destitute, and to depend 
for his daily bread, and his coarse habit, on God's pro- 
vidence. No record remains of any action or saying of 
his against the stately order of Cluny, but his vocation 
lay another way. God had kindled a divine love in 
his heart, and it was fire in his bones, and would not 
let him rest till he had accomplished the work which 
he was sent on earth to perform. God's saints are 
His workmanship, and the same Almighty goodness 
which has made the lilies, and also given its own 
beauty to the rose, which has created flowers, pre- 


cious stones, and animals, each with a different glory, 
has also in the creation of His grace variously moulded 
the souls of his saints. Stephen's lot was to be of 
those who, by their utter destitution of human helps, 
most of all illustrate the new order of things, which 
our blessed Lady celebrated in the Magnificat. Out 
of weakness he was to be made strong ; with his 
perfect poverty, his coarse and tattered garment, his 
body bowed down by labour and mortification, he was 
to bring in an order of men into the Church, who beat 
down pomp and luxury, intellect and power. His 
wooden staff was more powerful than the sceptre of 
kings, and his fragile frame was the centre, around 
which the whole of the saintly prelates of the Church, 
who fought against luxury and simony in the Church, 
clustered and arranged their battle ; the pre-eminence 
which Grod gave to His saint in after-life, is a full vindi- 
cation of his conduct in these his first years, when he 
was a poor despised monk, treated by his brethren as 
an enthusiast and fanatic. 




The scanty chronicles of the time give but few par- 
ticulars of the history of Molesme at this period ; all 
that is known is, that the war of dispensations continued 
for some time at Molesme, and that the greater part of 
the brethren continued to scoff at Stephen's scruples. 
His energetic words had, however, made a great im- 
pression on many of the community, so that the number 
of those who longed for a more perfect way began to 
form by no means a despicable part of the monastery. 
Seeing then that God had touched the hearts of so many 
of his brethren, Stephen determined on attempting a 
plan, out of which afterwards sprung the order of 
Citeaux. He conceived the idea of a new monastery, 
to be governed according to the very letter of the rule 
of St. Benedict. The scheme was in many respects a 
very bold one : in the first place, it involved leaving 
Molesme, and retiring again to the desert or the forest ; 
it was in fact beginning the world afresh, and exposing 
himself naked and destitute to all the hardships which 
beset an infant community. These, however, were 
difficulties which he had already overcome, and which 
his faith would teach him to treat as light afflictions. 
But there was another point of view in which he was 
running a risk in his new undertaking. We are far too 
apt to look upon the middle ages as times to which ordi- 
nary rules of prudence will not apply. It is quite true 
that now, when all is over, we can look back and wonder 


at the superhuman deeds which faith then achieved ; 
but we forget, that we now consider them as they are 
lit up by the glory which a successful result has thrown 
upon them. Many a man, whom we now revere as a 
saint, was looked upon in his day as a fanatic. Stephen 
had then to consider the chances of success, just as 
we should do now ; he must have bethought himself, 
whether his scheme was likely to answer, in modern 
phraseology. The diiference between him and one of 
us is simply, that he had the faith to throw himself 
on a great principle, in spite of the chances of its 
not answering. There was a great chance that the 
opinion of even good men would condemn him ; he was 
leading a number of monks into the desert, and that 
from Molesme, a regular, and, in many respects, a flou- 
rishing community. ^In returning to the letter of the 
rule of St. Benedict, he was going back from the 
twelfth century to the sixth, a leap almost as wide as 
it would be in the nineteenth to go back to the twelfth. 
He was moreover passing over the great precedent of 
Cluny, then, as has been before intimated, in the height 
of its splendour. On the other hand, the voice of his 
conscience was loud within him, bidding him embrace 
the most perfect way : and the sad state of a great many 
monasteries, which had fallen into disorder from the 
use of dispensations, was an external voice, hardly less 
loud, warning him to avoid the rock on which they had 
split.y His first care was to ascertain the will of his 
superiors ; he therefore and his companions applied to 
Robert, and stated their difficulties. Their faith in thus 
throwing themselves on the will of their abbot was 
rewarded, for he cordially entered into their schemes. 
With a joyful heart, they then consulted with their 
abbot on the best mode of effecting what they wished. 



feeling now sure that God was with them in the course vj^ 
which they intended to pursue. --^ 

They were obliged to proceed warily, for the monks 
of Molesme, however unwilling themselves to follow 
the rule of St. Benedict in all its strictness, were still 
too well aware of the lustre which Robert, Alberic, 
and Stephen cast upon the convent, to bear to part 
with them easily. They did not therefore even apply 
to their own bishop of Langres, but went straight to 
Hugh, archbishop of Lyons and legate of the Holy See 
in France. It was early in the year 1098 that Abbot 
Robert set out from Molesme on his way to Lyons, 
accompanied by Stephen, and five other monks, Alberic, 
Odo, John, Lsetaldus, and Peter. The prelate to whom 
they applied was one of the most distinguished ad- 
herents of St. Gregory VII. and had even expectations 
of succeeding to the popedom on his death. He was a 
great friend of St. Anselm, and at the time that our 
abbot came to Lyons with his companions, the illus- 
trious exile had sought and obtained shelter there. 
Hugh was therefore a man to appreciate their difii- 
culties. He entered into their scheme, and on their 
return to Molesme, sent them a letter authorizing them 
to quit Molesme ; this document, as it distinctly states 
the object for which they wished to leave their mon- 
astery, shall be here subjoined at length. 

" Hugo, Bishop of Lyons and legate of the Apostolic 
See, to Bobert, Abbot ol' Molesme, and to the brethren 
with him, who desire to serve God according to the rule 
of St. Benedict. Be it known to all, who rejoice in the 
advance of our Holy Mother the Church, that you, with 
certain men, your sons, brethren of the convent of 
Molesme, have stood in our presence at Lyons, and 
declared that ye wished to adhere to the rule of the 


blessed Benedict, which ye had up to this time kept 
in the said monastery in a lukewarm and negligent way, 
henceforth more strictly and more perfectly. Which 
thing, because it is evident that from many preventing 
causes ye cannot fulfil in the aforesaid place, we, consult- 
ing the salvation of both parties, that is, both of those 
who go away and those who stay, have thought it best 
that ye should retire to some other place, which the 
bounty of God shall point out to you, and there serve the 
Lord to your souls' greater health and quiet. To you 
therefore who were then present. Abbot Robert, and bre- 
thren Alberic, Odo, John, Stephen, Laetaldus, and Peter, 
yea and to all whom according to rule and by common 
counsel ye have determined to unite to yourselves, we 
both then gave advice to keep this holy design, and there- 
in now bid you persevere, and through apostolic autho- 
rity and by the setting of our seal confirm it for ever." 

On receiving this letter, Robert solemnly gave back 
into the hands of the brethren who remained the vows 
which they had taken of obedience to himself, at the 
same time giving them liberty to elect a successor. 
Twenty-one brethren, gathered together by Stephen's 
energetic words, determined to take advantage of the 
archbishop's permission and to follow him into the desert; 
the others had not the courage to take this bold step. 
A convent is a little world in itself, and has its mixed 
characters and tempers, just like the world; the mass 
of the community in such a convent as Molesme proba- 
bly consisted of men who followed the leading of others, 
and contented themselves with arriving at a certain 
standard of holiness, without rising much above or falling 
much below it. Let no one suppose that all is smooth in 
a convent life ; it has temptations of its own, temptations 
to rising only just in time for matins, to a love of such 


ease as the cloister will allow, to talking vain words at 
recreation time, to a low standard of devotion ; tempt- 
ations at which those who live in the world, exposed to 
imminent danger of mortal sin, may smile ; and yet real, 
because they argue habitual sloth. Those then who were 
contented with this low state of religion, and yet were 
incapable of open acts of disobedience and breaches of 
conventual discipline, would be able to appreciate the 
high character of Robert and Stephen, though they 
could not follow them. Such men would be painfully 
startled at finding that they must lose brethren beside 
whom they had knelt at vigils, and to whose fervour in 
singing God's praises they had been accustomed to look 
as a flame whereat to kindle their own coldness. The 
disobedient and rebellious, on the other hand, who con- 
sidered the fervour of the saints to be a reproach on their 
own evil tempers, were glad to be left to themselves with- 
out the restraint which the presence of the strict party 
imposed upon them. It was therefore with various 
emotions that the monks of Molesme saw their brethren 
set out on their expedition. As for the little band itself 
who thus left their convent for the wilderness, nothing 
could be more dreary than the prospect before them. 
They were in every respect adventurers, and none ever 
set out in quest of adventures across sea or land in a 
more destitute condition than did these twenty-one 
brethren. Robert took with him the ecclesiastical vest- 
ments and vessels necessary for celebrating the holy 
mysteries, and also a large breviary for the ordering 
of the divine office. Except this, they had nothing : 
two accounts are left us of their march ; one that they 
left the convent gates, not knowing whither they were 
going, and that they sought the wildest and most rugged 
paths, and at last arrived at Citeaux, where a voice from 



heaven bade them rest. Another account says, that 
they had already pitched upon Citeaux, before they left 
Molesme, as being the most lonely and uncultivated spot 
that they could find. Either story gives a sufficiently 
dreary account of their march, for a journey, undertaken 
with the prospect of arriving at such a place as Citeaux 
is then described to have been, is no less appalling than 
one of which the end was altogether unknown. But 
however naked they appeared to the eye of the worlds 
the heavenly enthusiasm which prompted them to enter 
on such a course was enough to buoy them up under 
their difficulties. At all events, even this nakedness 
was more welcome to Stephen, and such as he, than 
the miserable uncertainty which had hung over him ever 
since the degeneracy of Molesme. His conscience had 
been hurt by his inability to keep the rule, according to 
which he had sworn to live ; and no suffering can be so 
dreadful as a state of doubt, whether we are in the place 
in which God would have us be. Stephen was now 
sure that he was right ; God had blessed his endeavours 
after a more perfect way, by turning the heart of his 
abbot, and of the legate of the Holy See : and now his 
path was clear before him. He had entered in at the 
strait gate, and now had only to pursue the way, into 
which God had directed his feet. There are moments 
when holy men feel that their crown is won ; such must 
have been Stephen's thought as he left the gates of 
Molesme. His Saviour had with his own hand put the 
cross upon his shoulders, and he had now, with the same 
Saviour's help, only to carry it with a stout heart to his 




Travellers are often struck with the picturesque 
situations of ancient abbeys. The fact is, that those 
parts which are now the most beautiful, were in former 
times the wildest and most solitary. Little nooks, 
which are even now so lonely that the relentless hand 
of civilization has left them in their primitive beauty, 
must have been mere wildernesses, far from human 
habitation, in ages when so much of the earth was un- 
cultivated. Besides which, rocks and mountains may 
be very picturesque to look at, and yet very uncomfort- 
able as dwelling-places ; and many a stream, the banks 
of which are now visited for the sake of a beautiful 
ruin, at the time when the monastery was built flowed 
through pathless wilds and uninhabited forests. So it 
was with Citeaux ; at the time when Stephen and his 
companions first came to dwell there, it was a very differ- 
ent place from what it was when the stately abbey was 
built, which contained the tombs of all the dukes of Bur- 
gundy. Citeaux was the name of a spot situated in the 
midst of a wild wood, in the diocese of Chalons and 
the province of Burgundy. It was only tenanted by wild 
beasts, who found shelter in the thickets with which the 
place was overgrown, and into which no one ever cared 
to penetrate. A small stream ran through it which took 
its rise from a fountain, about a league from Dijon, called 
Sans-fonds, because it was so deep that no one had 
ever found the bottom. This stream had also a strange 


peculiarity connected with it, that in the time of rain it 
was languid and shallow, but when the heat had dried up 
all other rivers, it ran merrily along in a copious stream, 
as if it defied the power of the sun. The industry of 
the monks in after-ages collected its waters into three 
noble ponds, filled with fish j but at the time of which 
we write, it was ever overflowing its banks, so that the 
place is said to have derived its name from an old word 
expressive of the flags and bulrushes which the marshy 
soil produced in abundance. On the borders of the 
wood were several scattered cottages, where dwelt the 
peasants who cultivated the estate of the vi&count of 
Beaune, to whom the place belonged ; and there was 
also a rude and small church, for the use of this rustic 
population. The lord of Beaune gave them leave to 
take possession of this most unpromising tenement, and 
they forthwith began to clear away the briars and the 
sedge, and to cut down the trees, so as to leave an open 
space for their habitation. They then rudely put 
together the trunks of the trees which they had felled, 
and constructed the monastery, such as it was. The 
rudeness of their dwelling, however, raised for them a 
most unexpected friend. Odo, the then duke of Bur- 
gundy, had been originally one of the wildest of the iron 
nobles who infested the land. A few months, however, 
before their arrival at Citeaux,the majestic looks and bear- 
ing of our own Anselm had cowed the ducal robber, who 
had set out in full armour to seize upon what he con- 
ceived to be the rich coffers of Canterbury, as the saint 
passed through his dominions. The eye of the arch- 
bishop seems to have converted him, for from that mo- 
ment he became an altered man. Hearing from the arch- 
bishop of Lyons that a number of holy men had come 
to build a monastery in his territory, he inquired about 


them. So miserable, however, was their dwelling-place, 
that fearing lest thej should die from the roughnesses 
which they had to bear in this barren and dreary spot, he 
sent workmen to assist them in rearing their monastery. 
At length all was ready for their reception, and they 
chose the 21st of March, 1098, for the solemn inaugur- 
ation of the new abbey. A double festivity in that year 
fell on that day ; it was not only Palm Sunday, but also 
the feast of St. Benedict. They canonically elected 
Eobert as their abbot, and he received the pastoral 
staff at the hands of Walter, bishop of Chalons, who 
thus regularly erected the monastery into an abbey, 
under the name of Novum Monasterium, or New Minster, 
in honour of St. Mary, to whom, from this first wooden 
edifice, all churches of the order were afterwards de- 
dicated. The brethren then one by one vowed to pay 
him obedience according to a form preserved in the 
Exordium Parvum. " That profession which I made 
in thy presence at the monastery of Molesme, that same 
profession and stability I confirm before God and his 
saints in thy hands, that I will keep it in this place 
called New Minster, in obedience to thee and to thy 
successors to be regularly substituted in thy room." 
Odo of Burgundy and Rainaldus of Beaune had before 
given them the allodium, or freehold estate on which 
the monastery was built ; the serfs also who tilled the 
ground were given over to them, as well as the church 
in which they used to worship. It is characteristic of 
these first Cistercian fathers, that they refused to receive 
this church from the viscount of Beaune, as an append- 
age to the estate, nor would they have anything to do 
with it, unless it were given up entirely into their hands, 
by his abandoning his rights in a separate act ; for " the 
abbot and the rest of the brethren thought it by no 


means right to receive the church from his hands, be- 
cause he was a layman^." This took place in the very 
heat of the contest about investitures, and thus at the 
very outset of their order, the Cistercians chose their 
side in the momentous contest, though they could as yet 
but show it in a small way. A few days before that 
Palm Sunday, St. Anselm, whom they had left at Lyons, 
had set out on his way to Rome, and on that very 
Sunday, while Citeaux was being solemnly founded, the 
same saint had left his train at a small town on the road 
to Italy, and had gone with two monks to an unknown 
monastery, to celebrate the feast of St. Benedict. The 
simple brethren did not know who he was, and bade him 
beware in his journey, because the lord archbishop of 
Canterbury had, as was reported, been stopped on his 
way to Rome, by the perils of the road. Anselm and 
the monks of Citeaux were at the same moment, in 
different parts of the world, fighting the same cause, 
and yet neither party knew what the other was about ; 

* Gall. Christ, torn. iv. Instr. p. 232. It is quite evident that 
tliis act of the Cistercians was meant for a protest against lay 
usurpation, but its precise bearing is not so easy to discover. It 
seems that the Church property had in some way become a por- 
tion of the allodium or freehold estate which had come to Rainaldus 
through his wife. This appears from the phrase tenere ecelesiam, 
which is of the same cast as redimere, recipere ecclesiam, where 
ecdesia means the property belonging to a church. What the 
Cistercians here did, i. e. receiving back ecclesiastical property from 
a layman, (suscipere ecclesiam de manu laici,) was afterwards for- 
bidden by the third Lateran Council and the Council of London 
in 1200, unless the bishop consented to the arrangement. Though 
these canons were not passed at this time, our Cistercians felt the 
difficulty and refused to receive the church as a portion of the 
domain. They required Rainaldus to make a formal renunciation of 
the Church property by a separate act. V. Van Espen, Jus EccL, 
pt. ii. sect, 4. tit. 2. c. 5, 


but true monks everywhere have a sort of instinct of 
what is the good and the right side ; they have no 
earthly interests to dim their vision of what is God's 
cause, and we may trust a monk for being ever in his 
place — for the Church against the world. 

The officers of the New Monastery, thus quietly esta- 
blished, were now appointed ; Alberic returned to his 
old situation which he held at Molesme, that of prior ; 
Stephen was made sub-prior. In this peaceable state 
everything remained for a year under Robert's guidance, 
but he was not destined to see the full fruit of his 
labours. The monks of Molesme again found that they 
could not do without him. It required a firm hand to 
rule those refractory spirits who had once broken loose, 
and could only be kept in order by an authority which 
they respected. The secession also of such men as 
Robert, Alberic, and Stephen, from the convent had 
brought it into disrepute, and this could only be done 
away by regaining their abbot. The authority of the arch- 
bishop of Lyons, however, who had countenanced Robert's 
departure for Citeaux, rendered it a difficult matter to win 
him back. The only authority to which they could ap- 
peal was Rome, and to Rome they went, nothing daunted 
by the length of the way. A council was celebrated at 
Rome in the third week after Easter, 1099 ; it was con- 
vened by Urban II. for the condemnation of investi- 
tures, and for devising means for carrying on the crusade. 
Thither the monks repaired, and represented to the pope 
the widowed state of the church of Molesme, deprived of 
its first abbot and pastor. Urban seems to have sus- 
pected them : he describes in his letter to Hugh, arch- 
bishop of Lyons, the great clamour with which they 
entered into the council, and seems rather to have yielded 
to their importunity, against his own judgment. He did 


not directly command Robert to return to Molesme, but 
he bade Hugh do his best to bring him back if it could 
be done ; and at all events he orders him to take care 
that the inhabitants of the wilderness of Citeaux (as he 
calls it) should be left in peace, and that the monks of 
Molesme be made to keep their rule. The legate held a 
consultation on the subject at a place near Lyons, called 
Pierre encise, and determined that the only way to restore 
peace, both to Molesme and to the New Monastery, was 
to give up Robert to Molesme, and to forbid the two 
convents to have any further communication with each 
other, except such as St. Benedict enjoins on houses, 
between which there is no connection but the common 
profession of religion. Gaufridus, the abbot who had 
been elected in the room of Robert, was willing to yield 
the government of the abbey, and nothing now remained 
but that Robert himself should quit Citeaux, and return 
to the post which he had so often quitted and resumed. 
He again gave up his own will to obey his superiors, and 
returned to the bishop of Chalons the pastoral staff, which 
he had a year and a few months before received from 
his hands. He then freed the monks of Citeaux from 
the obedience which they owed to him, and went back 
to his old charge at Molesme. He was indeed a perfect 
pattern of obedience, and suffered himself to be bandied 
about from one convent to another as the will of his supe- 
riors directed; notwithstanding his aspirations for a more 
perfect way, he abandoned them at the command of God, 
knowing that no sufferings are acceptable to God, if not 
undertaken according to His will in charity. Doubtless 
he merited more in God's sight by giving up his 
brethren at Citeaux for his refractory subjects at 
Molesme, than he could have done by the most austere 
life. His obedience was rewarded, for Molesme ap- 


pears to have flourished under his rule, if we may judge 
from the fact that several monasteries were founded 
from it. One nunnery, that of Juilly, in which St. 
Bernard's sister afterwards took the vows, owed its 
origin to St. Kobert. It is probable that he still assisted 
Stephen and Alberic with his counsel, but his direct 
connection with Citeaux ceased with his last departure 
for Molesme. He died about the year 1110, and was 
canonized by Pope Honorius III. 




Robert left nothing behind him at Citeaux, but the 
vestments and sacred vessels, which he had brought with 
him ; these were expressly, according to the legate's 
command, to belong to the New Monastery. The large 
Breviary also was to remain there till St. John Baptist's 
day, by which time the brethren were to have it copied out 
and then to send it to Molesme. This, and the remem- 
brance which they kept of his virtues, was all the vestige 
which remained of his jurisdiction of Citeaux : he left 
them as free as if he had never been their abbot, or 
received their vows. They had therefore now to elect 
a successor, and their choice fell upon Alberic ; under 
him Stephen was naturally made prior. These two had 
worked hand in hand from the first commencement of 
Molesme, and remained together even when Robert 
seceded from them ; and now that he had finally left 
them, the eyes of the whole community were fixed upon 
them. Stephen had been in a manner the pupil of both, 
and it seemed as if the virtues of each were necessary to 
make up the defects of his original character. He had 
left Sherborne, as we have seen, from a violent thirst for 
knowledge, and had for some time roamed about the 
world almost without an object, certainly without a clear 
knowledge of his vocation. He had first learned obe- 
dience under Robert, and the stability of his character 
had been tried by the troubles which he had encountered 
at Molesme ; and now he had a further lesson to learn 


from Alberic, tliat of patient prudence. " Alberic/' says 
the Exordium, "when he had received, though much 
against his will, the pastoral charge, began to bethink 
himself, as being a man of wondrous prudence, what 
stormy troubles, coming to shake the house committed 
to him, might annoy it." And troubles enough there 
were about him. The post of abbot was at all times 
one which involved great anxiety, from the absolute 
powers which were vested in him. It was to him that 
the strict obedience which formed so large a part of the 
monastic rule was due, the deepest respect was paid to 
him, even to bowing the knee, and profound inclinations^ 
The officers of the monastery, from the prior downwards, 
were removable at his will^. At the same time he was 
to be in an especial way the chief spiritual guide of all 
the brethren, and to temper the rigour of the rule for the 
weak, without introducing irregularity into the convent. 
To him the monks revealed all their sorrows, and recurred 
for advice ; for which there was a place called the au- 
ditorium especially set apart. Even here, however, they 
could not speak without his leave ; on their appearance 
he gave them the benediction ; but if after this he kept a 
stern silence, the brother who applied for license left the 
auditorium without speaking^. At the same time, the 
regulation of the habits and of the food of the monks 
was in his hands, so that the temporal and spiritual pros- 
perity of the convent depended in a great measure upon 
him alone. No stronger proof of the great power of the 
abbot need be sought, than the fact that most of the later 
monastic reformations attack at once the power of his 

^ Usus Cist. Notandum quia quando Monachi osculantur Abba- 
tem, coram eo genua flectent et post osculum profunde inclinent. 
P. i. c. 90. 

^ Reg. St. Ben. 65. 7 Reg. Magist. c. 9. 

it was) the abbot had ail the powers wiiich St. Bene 
vested in the office. Alberic therefore had full need oi 
the " wondrous prudence " which the old Cistercian his-« 
tory celebrates. The abbot of Citeaux was not then the 
magnificent personage who celebrated mass pontificallj 
with the episcopal mitre, ring, and sandals, the lord oj 
five military orders, sitting in a lofty chair, on a level 
with the bishop, in the parliament of Burgundy^. Alberic 
was but the head of a few monks in a marshy desert 
where they had to struggle to win a hard subsistence froD 
the barren soil : they were exposed to the oppressioni 
of any baron who might take a fancy to molest them ; and 
above all, they were treated as enthusiasts and fanaticj 
by the monasteries around them. Their calumnies mighi 
at any time alienate the favour of the duke of Burgundy 
who as yet had protected them ; for the saintly boldnesi 
with which they determined to keep the whole rule a 
St. Benedict, had irritated not only their neighbours o: 
Molesme, but even the German convents had had newi 
of the fanaticism and disobedience of this New Monas 

It was well for Stephen that he was brought close toF 
Alberic, in these trying times of the Cistercian struggles 
for existence : his office of prior linked him to the abbot, 
and gave him an opportunity of watching the calm 
wisdom with which Alberic warded off these difficulties. 

^ Innocent VIII. gave the abbot of Citeaux the privilege of cele- 
brating pontifically, in a bull dated April 9, 1489 ; vide also Gall. 
Christ. 4. 983. 


The prior, according to St. Benedict's rule9, was to be 
entirely the abbot's minister ; and the Cistercians kept 
up this first notion of a prior. " Let the prior, within 
and without, concerning all things and in all things, 
act according to the will of the abbot." They even gave 
less authority to the prior than was usual in other rules, 
as may be seen by comparing Lanfranc's decrees, c. 3, 
with the Usus Cisterciensis. The prior was thus the eye 
and the hand of the abbot ; his office was to take the 
abbot's place in all the common routine of the convent 
when the abbot was engaged, and specially to keep up 
the regularity of the brethren, by giving the signal for 
labour and for the chapter. He also presided in the 
refectory, and gave the signal by a small bell, when they 
were to begin, and when to leave off eating ; for the Cis- 
tercian abbot, as was prescribed in St. Benedict's rule, 
always ate with the guests who happened to come to the 
abbey. Stephen's principal duty, therefore, was to work 
conjointly wi^ Alberic, and he profited by the office 
which thus threw him in contact with that holy man. 

Alberic's first care was to provide for the safety of his 
abbey, " that it might for ever remain in quiet, safe from 
the oppression of all persons, ecclesiastical or secular." 
It appears from the archbishop of Lyons' letter to Pope 
Pascal, that "the brethren of the Church of Molesme, and 
some other neighbouring monks, did not cease to harass 
and disquiet them, thinking that they themselves were 
looked upon as vile and despicable by the world, as long 
as these strange and novel monks were seen to dwell 
among them." They endeavoured to entice away strag- 
glers from the Cistercian brethren back to Molesme, and 
even used violence and guile in order to disturb the quiet 
of the New Monastery. Alberic's only place of refuge 
9 Reg. St. Ben. c. 65, Usus Cist. p. i. 11 1. 


was the Holy See ; and at this moment two cardinals, 
John and Benedict, were in France, for the purpose of 
devising means to punish Philip, king of France, who 
had divorced his own wife Bertha, .and was living in 
adultery with Bertrada, wife of Fulke, count of Anjou. 
The two cardinals held a council at Poictiers, and ex- 
communicated the king ; but amidst the press of busi- 
ness which this involved, they found leisure to attend 
to the affairs of Citeaux. It appears that the fame of 
the saintly inhabitants of this poor monastery had spread 
all over France, and reached the ears of the legates. The 
words which the cardinals use in their letter to the Pope 
might almost seem to imply that they had been in person 
to Citeaux : at all events, they must have seen some of the 
brethren, whose appearance struck them with admira- 
tion, and they willingly wrote to the holy father, begging 
him to take the monastery under his special protection. 
Alberic assembled the chapter, and with the concurrence 
of Stephen and the rest of the brethren, two monks, John 
and Ilbodus, were despatched to Eome, with letters from 
the cardinal legates, from Hugh, archbishop of Lyons, and 
from the bishop of Chalons. Pascal had been but a year 
elected to the papal throne, and was then in the height 
of his power ; his gracious demeanour and piety had 
conciliated all about him, and his unanimous election 
had brought to Rome a peace which it had not known 
for a long time. The moment therefore which the Cister- 
cians chose was a fortunate one. They found that Pascal 
was absent from Rome, and they had to follow him as 
far as Troja in Apulia. The warm expressions of esteem 
which his letter to Alberic contains, prove that he re- 
ceived the brethren with open arms. Himself a monk of 
Cluny, and a disciple of St. Hugh, he could well enter 
into their troubles ; and although he afterwards showed 


himself so very unable to comprehend the great cause for 
which his predecessors had fought, yet his character was 
such as to appreciate the motives which had driven the 
brethren ofCiteaux into the wilderness. He immediate- 
ly granted the request of the two envoys, and gave them 
a letter by which he took the New Monastery under the 
special protection of the Holy See. He calls them " his 
most dear sons in Christ, whom he longed after very 
much," and he concludes with a sentence of excommuni- 
cation against any "archbishop or bishop, emperor or 
king, count or viscount, judge, or any other person ec- 
clesiastical or civil," who, being aware of the protection 
granted by the Holy See, should molest the abbey. The 
letter is dated April 18, 1100. The old Cistercian his- 
torian, after giving an account of the protection thus ex- 
tended by the Holy See, adds with a sort of melancholy 
feeling, that it was granted and the messengers had re- 
turned " before Pope Pascal had been taken captive by 
the emperor and sinned." This privilege of protection 
thus obtained from the Holy See was of the utmost con- 
sequence to Citeaux. It is evidently not an exemption, 
that is, it is not meant to exempt the abbot from epis- 
copal jurisdiction, and to subject him immediately to 
the Holy See, for the canonical obedience to the see of 
Chalons is expressly mentioned. Its import must be 
understood from similar documents granted by former 
sovereign pontiffs. The jurisdiction of monasteries was 
always a difficulty in the Church j it is generally be- 
lieved that they were from the first subject to the bishop ; 
so far is this from being the case, that during^ the first 
150 years of their existence, that is, till the council of 
Chalcedon, monks were no more under the bishop than 
other laymen. As monachism developed into a system, 
the bishops naturally became the ultimate authority to 


which convents were subject. Still it was necessary that 
the abbot should have an authority next to absolute in 
the internal management ] and according to the rule of 
St. Benedict, he has the power to excommunicate the 
monks who transgressed the rule. The bishop only ap- 
pears as the abbot's assistant in punishing the brethren 
who were priests^. Again, he blessed the abbot when 
he had been chosen by the convent, and it was from him 
that the abbot's authority was derived^. As time went 
on, bishops encroached upon the convents ; they required 
money for the benediction of the abbot, interfered with 
the freedom of election, and took upon them the ad- 
ministration of the temporalities. The poor of Christ 
had no refuge but the Holy See^; and several letters of 
Pope Gregory the Great are extant, in which he com- 
mands bishops to respect the privileges of abbeys, and 
takes them under the special protection of the chair of 
St. Peter. In one case he even withdraws the sole 
jurisdiction over an abbey from the bishop of the dio- 
cese, and joins with him a council of six bishops. That 
great pontiff knew that a monastery should be perfect 
in itself; the very principle of obedience required it to 
be subject to one head, and the authority of the bishop 
was only necessary to constitute that head, that the 
obedience might be canonical, as also to superintend, 
not to interfere with, his authority. They were Christ's 
spiritual army, ready at any time to assert the faith 
against heresy, however powerful, and setting up the 
light of heavenly purity when the profligacy of the world 
had well-nigh cast away religion. In order to do this, 
they must be a whole within themselves, and cut off 
from worldly influence, and from interests without the 

Vc 62. ^c.Q5. 

3 Ep. lib. ix. Inst. 2. HI. lib. xiii. Inst. 6. 8, 9. 


cloister. A bishop in most cases could not be a monk, 
and therefore could not govern a convent ; he could only 
come in at certain times as a remedy in cases beyond 
the rule. Subsequent pontiffs followed St. Gregory in 
jealously guarding the independence of monasteries ; for 
instance, John IV. ^ even granted a formal exemption to 
two convents, and subjected them immediately to the 
Holy See. The primitive meaning of such extraordinary 
privileges was to guard against the encroachments of 
which bishops had been guilty, and to keep the internal 
government of the abbey in the hands of the abbot ; they 
were not, however, intended to separate monks from the 
canonical obedience due to the bishop. It is true that after 
the time of which we are writing, they came to be much 
abused ; and St. Bernard complains of the ambition of 
abbots, who endeavoured to avoid the authority of their 
bishop, whilst he approves of the devotion of founders of 
monasteries, who placed their houses under the protection 
of Rome. Of this nature was the letter of Pascal to Al- 
beric ; it was not, as we have said, an exemption from epi- 
scopal authority, but it was a privilege, by which the de- 
fenceless house of Christ's poor ones was taken under the 
wings of the Apostolic See. Two things were especially 
commanded by the pope ; one, " that it should be lawful 
for no person whatever to change the state of their mode 
of life." This left them full power to live as they pleased 
according to the strict rule of St. Benedict ; a bishop 
might do his best to oblige them to keep their rule, if 
they broke it ; but he could not compel them to observe 
the same customs as most other convents around them ; 
to profess the rule of St. Benedict, but in effect to 
relax it under pretence of dispensations. Again, it left 

'* Mabillon, Ann. Ben. torn. i. Appendix, No. 17, 18. 



them free to establish what usages thej pleased ; every 
monastery had many traditionary practices and cere- 
monies peculiar to itself, in matters which the rule 
had left open ; and Pascal by this provision exempted 
the Cistercians from the usages of any other religious 
house, and left them free to form their own customs. 
Out of this permission arose the Usus Cisterciensis. 
The other special provision made by the pope was, 
" that none should receive the monks of your monastery 
called the New Minster, without a commendation ac- 
cording to the rule." This was in fact a confirmation 
of the canonical authority committed by the bishop of 
Chalons to the abbot of Citeaux by the delivery of the 
pastoral staff; it was the act by which he had authority 
over the monks, so that they could not leave the cloister 
without his consent. Without vows, and those made to a 
person vested with authority, monks are a mere collec- 
tion of individuals, dissolvable at will ; the absence of a 
canonical vow changes the whole idea of monastic life, 
and none can hope for God's blessing on the most solemn 
engagements which they form, unless the power in whose 
hands they place themselves is the representative of the 
Church. Otherwise they can never be sure that their 
obedience is not self-will. These words of Pascal, 
therefore, are like the recognition of a corporate body 
by the law ; one Christian may any day that he pleases 
make a vow that he will live in obedience to another ; 
but, unless that other is recognized by the Church, the 
ecclesiastical law cannot take cognizance of the trans- 
action. Such is the explanation of this privilege given 
by the pope to Citeaux, which at once raised it above 
the calumnies of the monks, who felt their own lives to 
be reproved by the holiness of their neighbours. 




Albekic, now that he had obtained the sanction of the 
Holj See, set forward with a bold heart in his strict fol- 
lowing of St. Benedict's rule. In the execution of all 
the reforms which distinguished what afterwards became 
the order of Citeaux, Stephen as prior was necessarily- 
foremost ; the whole movement indeed was but carrying 
into effect what he had before conceived at Molesme. 
The first alteration effected was the cutting off of all 
superfluity in the monastic habit. The Church in the 
beginning of the twelfth century had a hard battle to 
fight with pomp and luxury within the sanctuary itself. 
Courtly prelates, such as Wolsey in a later age, were not 
uncommon, and this worldly spirit had invaded even the 
cloister. A reformation, therefore, such as that effected 
by Alberic and Stephen at the outset of the century, was 
of the utmost consequence in deciding the struggle in 
favour of Christian poverty. They were not as yet 
conscious of the importance of wh-at they were doing; 
they were but a few poor monks, serving God in the 
midst of a marshy wild, in an obscure corner of Bur- 
gundy, and only aimed at securing their own salvation. 
But they arose in a critical time for Christendom, and 
just turned the scale as it was wavering. Let us hear 
the words of a good old monk, who wrote in another part 


of the world during the first years of Citeaux^. " How 
shall I begin to speak 1 For on all sides is the sacred 
end of monkish life transgressed, and hardly aught is 
left us, save that, as our holy father Benedict foretold, 
by our tonsure and habit we lie to God. We seem 
almost all of us prone to pride, to contention, scandal, 
detraction, lying, evil speaking, hurtful accusations, con- 
tumacy, wrath, bitterness, despising of others, murmur- 
ing, gluttony ;" and he winds up all by saying, " we are 
seduced by a love of costly apparel." Bitter are the 
complaints that we hear of one monk^ clad in rich 
grey or party-coloured silks, and another ambling by on 
a mule which cost 200 solidi. What shall we say to 
the proud abbot with his train of sixty horse, riding 
forth, not like the father of a monastery, but like an 
armed castellan ? Or to another with his robe of costly 
fur, and his sideboard of gold and silver plate, though 
he rode but four leagues from home 3? And if the 
abbot himself was in sober black, his secular attendants 
rode behind him in gay clothing of scarlet or green, 
the motley procession arresting the eyes of beholders 
along the road, whilst it frightened the porter of the 
poor monastery where they were to put up for the 
night. It was high time for the Cistercian to step in 
wdth his rough woollen stufi', and to return to St. Bene- 
dict's rule. Alberic and his brethren rejected all habits 
that were not mentioned in the rule^; they therefore 

* Chronicon Vultumense, Muratori, Script. Rer. Ital. torn. i. p. 
2. 343. 

'' St. Bernard, Apol. ad Guil. 10, 11. ^ gtat. Pet. Yen. 40. 70. 

'* " Rejicientes a se quicquid regula refragabatur, froccos videlicet, 
et pellicias, staminias et caputia." Exord. Parv. 15. — Staminia 
is described by William of Malmesbury as "illud quod subtiliter 
texitur laneuin, quod nos staminium vopamus." Gest. Reg. Angl. 
lib. iv. § 336. 


would not wear garments with ample folds, nor garments 
of fur, shirts, nor hoods separated from the rest of the 
habit. St. Benedict allows the habit to vary according , 
to the climate ; but for countries of a mean temperature, 
he gives it as his opinion that a garment called cucuUa, 
a tunic, and a scapular are sufficient. At first these 
were only the common habits worn by the peasants of 
the country. The stern old Benedictine looked for 
nothing picturesque ; he had made himself poor for his 
Lord's sake, and he wore the dress of the poor among 
whom he lived, and with whom he worked in the cold 
and heat, in the rain and in the sunshine. Ancient pic- 
tures are still seen of the monl^ in his tunic, and scanty 
scapular, reaching down to his knees, without sleeves, 
but with holes through which his arms were passed, and 
with a pointed cowl enveloping his head. Over this, 
which was his working dress, he wore in the choir, and 
in the house, the cuculla, which was a large mantle, not 
unlike a close cope, without sleeves, and enveloping the ) 
whole person^. There was many a step between this 
coarse garb, and the ample folds into which it had de- 
veloped around the noble figure of St. Hugh of Cluny^. 
In the Cluniac order the scapular was called cuculla, and 
the upper garment was called froccus. Instead of the 
pointed and almost conical cowl of the primitive Bene- 
dictine, their scapular had a fair and ample cowl, and 
the froccus had long and pendent sleeves two feet in cir- 
cumference; again, their scapular covered not only the 
shoulders, but it was also expanded into a covering 
for the arms, so that it scandalized our simple Cister- 

^ See the cuculla of St. Remaclus, the oldest Benedictine habit, 
existing in Martenne's time. Voyage Lit. ii. 154. 
® Martenne, Voyage Lit. i. 229. 


clans'^. The froccus whicli Alberic and Stephen rejected 
was in fact the same garment as their own cuculla, as 
worn "with a diiFerence" by the Cluniacs. They re- 
I verted as far as they could to St. Benedict's pattern, 
following the Italian rather than the French monks, 
for their scapular had the same form as that of Mount 
Cassino. With all their severity, there is a grace about 
the Cistercian habit, from the fond associations with 
which they connected it. In the black scapular worn 
over the white tunic, broad about the shoulders, then 
falling in a narrow strip to the feet, they saw the form 
of our Lord's cross, and thus they loved to bear it about 
with them even in sleeps. Their cuculla was com- 
pared by pope Boniface VI. to the six wings of the 
seraphim, for " it veils the head of the monk as it were 
with two wings, and the arms as it were with twain, and 
the body as it were with twain9." Another charac- 
teristic of the Cistercian habit was its white colour. The 
scapular, as we have said, was black, and when on a 
journey, they might ride booted and spurred, with a 
grey cuculla, so that they were called in Germany grey 
monks; but their proper habit was white, and much 
wonder it excited amongst the brethren of other orders. 

' That the froccus of the Cluniacs had sleeves, is plain from the 
answer made by the Cluniac. Martenne, Thes. Anec. torn. y. p. 
3649, 47. Their amplum caputium is mentioned in St. Bernard's 
letter to Robert, his cousin. For the scapular, see Martenne, ibid, 
p. 1639, 25. The difference between the Cluniac froccus and 
Cistercian cuculla is said by Peter the Venerable, Ep. 27, to 
consist in that the latter was " album et curtum." Again, the 
cowl was detached from the froccus, as appears from Bernard, 
Abbot of Cassino, quoted by Mabillon, Acta Sanct. Ord. Ben. Saec. 
V, Preface, p. 44. 

8 Martenne, ibid. 1650, 48. ^ Ibid. 1649, 46. 


The black monks meeting a white monk on a journey 
would stop and stare, and point at the stranger, as if he 
were a traveller in a foreign dress^. They reproached 
the Cistercians with wearing a garment fit only for a 
time of joy, whilst the monastic state was one of peni- 
tence^ But the white monks answered, that the life of 
a monk was not only one of penitence, but was like that 
of the angels, and therefore they wore white garments, 
to show the spiritual joy of their hearts. And notwith- 
standing their coarse bread and hard beds, there was a 
cheerfulness about the Cistercians, which may in a great 
measure be traced to what we should now call a sympathy 
with nature. Their life lay out of doors, amongst vine- 
yards and cornfields ; their monasteries, as their names 
testify, were mostly situated in sequestered valleys, and 
were, by a law of the order, as old as the time of Alberic, 
never in towns, but in the country. From their constant 
meditation as they worked, they acquired a habit of 
joining their recollections of Scripture to natural objects; 
hence also the love for the Song of Solomon, which is 
evident in the earlier ascetic writers of the order. We 
shall see, in the course of this narrative, abundant proof 
that Stephen's white habit did not hide a gloomy or 
unfeeling heart. 

The reason assigned for the change of colour in the 
habit is the devotion to St. Mary, observable in the 
order from the beginning. It was a standing law that 
all Cistercian monasteries should be " founded and 
dedicated to the memory of the queen of heaven and 
earth, holy Mary^ ;" the hours of the Blessed Virgin 
were also recited very early after the foundation of 

• 1 Pet. Ven. Ep. iv. 17. 

2 Martenne, Thes. Anec. torn. v. 1 649, 46. 

3 Norn. Cist. Inst, Cap. Gen. p. i. c. 18. 


Citeaux ; and the angelic salutation* was one of the 
common acts of devotion put into the mouth of even the 
lay brethren of the order. The immediate cause of the 
adoption of the white habit is mysterious ; it seems 
difficult to account how it should all at once appear, 
without the sanction of any statute of the order, espe- 
cially as it was opposed to the custom if not to the rule 
of the primitive Benedictines. A tradition is even cur- 
rent in the order, that Alberic saw the blessed Virgin 
in a vision putting upon his shoulders the white gar- 
ment ; and that he changed the tawny colour of St. 
Mary Magdalene to the joyful colour sacred to the 
mother of our Lord, in consequence of the consolation 
which the vision afforded him in the difficulties with 
which he was then struggling. The vision has not 
much historical authority, though the tradition of the 
order, and the strange circumstance of the change of 
colour itself, are in favour of its truth. The one thing 
certain is, that it was assumed in honour of the spotless 
purity of St. Mary, the special patroness of the Cister- 
cians ; and the circumstance that she was chosen to be 
the peculiar saint of the rising order is in itself charac- 
teristic. One would have thought that the austerity of 
Alberic and Stephen would have led them to choose 
some martyr or some unbending confessor of the faith ; 
but they rather raised their minds to her on whom the 
mind cannot rest without joy, though her own most 
blessed soul was pierced through with a sword. She 
was the spotless lily of the valleys in which the King of 
Heaven deigned to take up His abode ; and the Cister- 
cians thought it well that she should protect by her 

'* The latter part of the Ave Maria was not added till the six- 
teenth century. Vide Mabillon, Acta Sane. Prsef. vol. v. 


prayers their lowly houses, which were hid from the 
world in secluded vales, and make them also the dwell- 
ing-place of her Son. 

It was not, however, only in their habit that the Cis- 
tercians imitated the primitive monks ; they returned 
also to the scanty diet which St. Benedict prescribes. It 
was most of all in this particular that the abuse of dispen- 
sations crept in, for in this portion of the rule the abbot 
was especially to exercise his discretion 5. A few years 
after the time when the Cistercian reform was effected, 
the Cluniacs degenerated, after St. Hugh's death under 
abbot Pontius ; not only did they eat meat every day in 
the week except Friday^, but they ransacked earth and air 
for highly flavoured dainties. They kept huntsmen, who 
searched the forest through for venison and wild-boars ; 
their falconers brought them the choicest birds, pheasants, 
partridges, and wood-pigeons. The province under the 
archbishopric of Lyons seems at that time to have been 
especially full of monasteries from which religion had 
disappeared, inhabited by monks, " whose cloister was 
the whole world, whose god was their belly 7." AVine, 
well spiced, and mixed with honey, and meats highly 
seasoned with pepper, ginger, and cinnamon, were then 
to be found in the refectory of Cluny^ with all kinds of 
costly spices, brought from beyond the sea, and even 
from the East. Monks used also to retire to the infir- 
mary under pretence of sickness, in order to eat meat ; 
and strong healthy brethren might be seen walking 
about with the support of a staff, which was the mark 
of the infirm. The liberality of the faithful had also aug- 
mented the evil, as might be seen from the necrologies 

5 Reg. St. Ben. 41. « Pet. Yen. Ep. vi. 15. 

7 Pet. Ven. Ep. ii. 2. « St. Bern. Ep. i. 1. Stat. Pet. Ven. 11. 

58 ST. STEPHE^f, ABBOT. ^ [CH. 

of monasteries, in whicli certain benefactors were com- 
memorated, who left sums of money to be laid out in 
pittances or relaxations for the monks on certain days 
beyond the rule. - St. Benedict gives his monks a pound 
of bread a day, besides two cooked dishes ; and on days 
when they had more than one meal, a few raw vege- 
tables or fruits for supper. As far as the letter of the 
rule went, these dishes might be fish, eggs, milk, cream, 
cheese, roots, and vegetables of all sorts 9; even fowls 
were not excluded ; but the custom of the primitive 
monks of the order had banished all but the plainest 
vegetables boiled with salt. Cluny, even in its best 
times, had added to these frugal rules, and it is probably 
against the Cluniac innovations that Alberic and Ste- 
phen's regulations were framed. The Cluniacs divided 
their messes into two sorts, one called generate, which 
was allowed by the rule, another was pitantia, and be- 
yond it. The regular cooks had nothing to do with 
the pittance, which was always distributed by the 
cellarer, the theory being that it was benevolently 
allowed beside the rule ; again, it was never blessed. 
The general was given separately to each monk j the 
pittance was in one dish between two brethren. The 
common food of the brethren were beans and other ve- 
getables : minute directions are given " that the beans 
be stirred from the bottom with a spoon," lest they be 
scorched. Also they are to be boiled with grease; and 
one of the cooks, it is especially provided, may taste " the 
water of the beans, that he may prove if they be well 
seasoned." On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the 
general consisted of beans and vegetables ; besides which 
there was a pittance, which might be four eggs, or cheese. 

^ Calmet. Com. Lit. ii. 32. 


On other days^ the general, besides the vegetables, might 
be fish or ^ye eggs. No one can accuse this diet of 
excess, and jet it was beyond the rule of St. Benedict ; 
there is even a story to the effect, that St. Peter Damian 
was shocked at the style of the refectory at Cluny, and 
especially at their using grease with their vegetables; 
and that he expressed his dissatisfaction to St, Hugh ^. 
It is also quite true that amidst the marshy soil and 
damp woods of Citeaux, and with much more manual 
labour than was practised by the Cluniacs, Alberic and 
Stephen succeeded in establishing a much more strict 
system than that of Cluny. They rejected, says the 
Exordium, "dishes of divers kinds of food in the re- 
fectory, grease also, and whatsoever was opposed to the 
purity of the rule." It is known that they did not 
eat fish ; even eggs seem to have been excluded, and 
milk was used only at the season of harvest, and that 
not as a pittance, but as one of the two dishes allowed 
by the rule 2. After half a night spent in singing the 
divine office, in reading and meditation, and a day spent 
in agricultural labour, they assembled to what w^as dur- 
ing a great part of the year their single meal, which 
consisted solely of what St. Benedict allowed, and that 
procured by the sweat of their brow. Their fare was 
the convent bread, and two messes of vegetables, boiled, 
not with the culinary accuracy of Cluny, but in the 
plainest way. It is instructive to observe the contrast 
between St. Hugh and Stephen. The abbot of Cluny 
himself lived a most austere life, but he was also a 

» Bibl. Clun. 461. 

^ Vid. Us. Cist. 84. for the exclusion of fish and eggs, vid. Inst. 
Cap. Gen. 49, ap. Nomas ticon Cisterciense, et Fastredi, Ep. ap. Op. 
St. Bern. ed. Ben. 


builder of magnificent churches, and of ecclesiastical 
ornaments 3. He also gave dispensations to weaker 
brethren ; in one case allowing a nobleman, whose 
dainty flesh had worn from his birth soft silks and 
foreign furs, to wear for a time a less rough habit than 
the rest of the brethren ; in another, increasing the daily 
portion of the younger monks beyond what the rule pre- 
scribed*. Stephen, on the other hand, was cast in ano- 
ther mould ; he was made, not to bring on the weak, 
but to lead the strong. All that belonged to earth he 
looked upon as an encumbrance, even though it was 
hallowed by consecration on the altar. He loved coarse 
and scanty food, because it was a partaking of Christ's 
sufferings ; and he clung to the rough monastic gar- 
ment, because it was an imitation of Christ's poverty. 
It was this love of poverty which also induced them 
to make another regulation, widely differing from the 
general practice of the monasteries at that time. " And 
because," it is said, "neither in the rule, nor in the 
life of St. Benedict, did they read that that doctor of 
the Church possessed churches, or altars, or oblations, 
or burial-grounds, or tithes belonging to other men, or 
bakehouses, or mills, or farms, or serfs — therefore they 
rejected all these things." They did not by any means 
intend to do away with the lands or offices of the con- 
vent ; on the contrary, they had already accepted a 
grant of land with the serfs, and all that was upon it, 
from the Viscount of Beaune, and we may be sure 
that both mills and bakehouses were already in full 
operation at Citeaux ; for St. Benedict's rule prescribes 
"that all necessary things, such as water, a mill, a 

3 Vit. S. Hug. ap. Bib. Clun. p. 420. * Ibid, et p. 432. 


garden, a bakehouse, should if possible be contained 
within the monastery, and that divers arts should be 
exercised there ^." Monks were to be their own millers 
and bakers, farmers and gardeners : and doubtless such 
strict observers of the rule as the brethren of Citeaux 
had already sunk wells and enclosed a garden. Doubt- 
less, too, they had erected a mill, though it may be 
safely conjectured, that it was not so large as that of 
Farfa, a convent which was built after the pattern of 
Cluny, the mill of which was an edifice seventy feet 
long, and twenty broad, with a tower over it ; nor had 
it adjoining, as at Farfa, a manufactory where gold- 
smiths and other artificers were at work 6. At Cluny, 
the mill was an important place, where specially before 
Easter and Christmas a servant of the abbey ground 
the corn of which the altar-breads were to be made, 
dressed in an alb, and with a veil enveloping his 
head". The bakehouse, too, was not left without orna- 
ment ; it was adorned with boughs of walnut-trees^ ; 
many things connected with household affairs were at 
Cluny consecrated with rites of an almost oriental 
beauty, which reminds one of, patriarchal times ; thus 
the new bread was specially blessed in the refectory, as 
were the first-fruits of beans ; and again, the first grapes, 
which were blessed at the altar during mass 9. Our 
poor Cistercians were as yet struggling for existence, 
and the place where they baked their coarse food was 
not so picturesque as that of Cluny; but they did not 
mean by the regulations above quoted, to make use of 
mills and bakehouses out of the precincts of the abbey ; 
and they expressly say, a little farther on, that "they 

^ C. 66. 6 Ann. Ben. torn. iv. p. 208. 

'^ Udal. iii. 13. ap. D'Achery, Spicil. torn. i. 

« Calmet. Com. Lit. ii. 428. ^ udal. i. 35. 


will receive lands far from the dwelling-place of men, 
vineyards, and fields and woods, and water to make 
mills, but for their own use." The wood of Citeaux 
was, therefore, already an active scene, where the 
monks might be seen working in silence, broken only 
by the stroke of the spade, or the noise of the water 
turning the wheels of the mill, or the bell calling them 
from their labour. The meaning of the above regu- 
lation, then, was, that they were not to possess large 
domains, with wood and water, corn-fields and vine- 
yards, which they did not cultivate themselves, but let 
out to tenants. Many were the broad lands possessed 
by the monks of Cluny, with vassals, and servants both 
men and women. For the use of the three hundred 
brethren, as well as of the poor and the guests of the 
abbey, 560 sextarii of wheat, and oOO of rye monthly, 
were stored up in granaries, from the various farms 
which were within reach i. The possessions of the 
abbey were divided into districts, over each of which 
was a dean, appointed to take care that it sent in 
the proper quantity of whatever was required of it^ 
As for those lands, whiph were too far from Cluny to 
send thither their produce, the corn and wine which 
grew there was sold on the spot, and paid to the Came- 
rarius, who procured clothing and all necessaries for the 
brethren ^. Italy, Spain, and England, sent the pro- 
duce of their lands to clothe the brethren ; one province 
especially, from the Ehone to the Alps and the sea, was 
appointed to this duty, and sent its treasures to the 
camera of Cluny. An English manor, given by King 
Stephen, usually furnished the monks with shoes and 

' Dispositio facta a D. Pet. Ven., Baluz. Miscel. torn. iii. p. 72. 
" Udal. iii. 5. 3 jb.iii. 11. 


stockings ^. Such was Cluny, and that not in a time of 
degeneracy, but under St. Hugh, and afterwards under 
Peter the Venerable, when the monks fasted and prayed, 
and rose in the night to sing psalms ; when its vast 
revenues were not misspent, but daily fed a large num- 
ber of poor. It was a vast kingdom where Christ reigned, 
where its saints rested in peace, and which raised an 
image of peace in a world of strife and bloodshed. 
Happy were the vassals transferred from a secular lord 
to the rule of the abbot of Cluny ; instead of being 
robbed and harried two or three times a year, by exactions 
over and above their rent, and bought and sold like the 
cattle on the estate, they were treated as brethren and 
sisters ^. A castle given to the Cluniacs, instead of a 
den of thieves, became an oratory. If the brethren sold 
the produce of the estates at a distance from the abbey, 
their dealings were marked with a fairness and a gene- 
rosity, which showed that they trafficked not for gain, but 
for their own support and to feed the poor^. 

Still, with all this, what our Cistercians said was 
quite true; Cluny had, we will not say degenerated from, 
but changed, St. Benedict's institution. The possessors 
of these wide domains, though they lived a life of more 
than ordinary strictness, never touching animal food, 
and mortifying the flesh with watchings and fasts, jet 
could not be said to be Christ's poor ones, in the same^^ 
sense as men who had nothing to depend upon but 
their own manual labour. It may be said that Cluny 
was an ancient abbey, enriched by the bounty of kings 
and bishops, and that Citeaux was but a poor monastery, 
struggling into existence ; but it is also certain, that a 

^ Disp. facta, &c. ubi sup. ^ Pet. Ven. Ep. 28. 

6 Udal. iii. 11. 


stricter profession of poverty was the very distinction 
between Citeaux and other abbeys : if ever, therefore, it 
became rich, it was because it broke through its original 
institution, whilst the riches of Cluny were not neces- 
sarily a mark of decline, but a legitimate development. 
The idea of the monastic state in Stephen's mind was 
quite different from that conceived by Peter the Vener- 

We have purposely put off the first part of Alberic 
and Stephen's regulation as to the possessions of the 
convent, because it forms the most striking contrast 
with the spirit of Cluny. They would not possess any 
of the property which had originally belonged to the 
parochial clergy. The Church, about the end of the 
eleventh century, was endeavouring to win back the 
tithes and the revenues of livings from the hands of 
their lay possessors ; but the iron gauntlet of the feudal 
noble was found to retain as tight a hold as the dead 
hand of the Church. The tithes had probably first 
come into the possession of laymen by the gift of the 
bishops themselves, in times of danger ; the system of 
feudalism was extended even to Church property, and 
the parish churches were put as fiefs into laymen's 
hands, on condition that they would defend the Church. 
Though they were never meant to be a perpetual gift, 
yet the nobles who had them in possession would not 
give them up ; they had won them by their good sword, 
and keep them they would. Other nobles had simply 
seized upon the tithes by violence, principally in the 
lax times of the Carlovingian dynasty ; and the same 
injustice which had at first robbed the Church, after- 
wards resisted it. In vain did St. Gregory VII. and 
Urban II. order the restitution of tithes, the nobles in 
very many cases would not disgorge the spoil. The 


supreme pontiffs acted with tlie greatest moderation in 
not pronouncing, though they often threatened the sen- 
tence of excommunication. In the meanwhile, a middle 
course was found ; laymen possessing tithes were allowed 
to give them up to monasteries, or to found religious 
houses with them, if the consent of the bishop of the 
diocese was first obtained. In this way tithes first got 
into the hands of monasteries ; and though this was not 
the best possible course, as was afterwards proved, yet 
ft was at the time a remedy for a glaring evil. Bishops, 
who at one time vehemently opposed this transfer, were 
led to sanction it by the necessity of the case. In other 
instances, bishops themselves, with the sanction of their 
chapter, gave parish churches into the hands of abbeys, 
thinking that- they would exercise their patronage with 
the greatest wisdom. The feeling which induced the 
Cistercians to rule that their monastery should possess 
no tithes, was probably rather a zeal for poverty, than a 
notion that the thing was wrong in itself A monk, 
according to the Cistercian idea, was not to administer 
the holy Sacraments nor to teach, but he was to remain 
within his cloister, in prayer and contemplation, in poverty 
and mortification. In the regulation quoted above, tithes 
and church property in general are classed with mills, and 
bakehouses and lands ; all come under the same head, as 
being possessions, and therefore opposed to poverty. 
Stephen himself, when abbot of Citeaux, as will be seen 
by and by, was present at the council of Troyes, where the 
Templars were allowed to possess tithes, if the bishop 
consented ; and St. Bernard, his disciple, himself wrote 
to an archbishop, to exhort him to consent to the gift of 
tithes, presented by a layman to a monastery 7 Their 
argument, therefore, was not that monks, as being lay- 
7 Ep. 316. 



men, cannot under any circumstances possess tithes, but 
that, as cultivating lands of their own, they do not come 
under the old distribution of Church property, one- 
third to the bishop, another to the clergy, and the rest 
to the poor, who have no means of earning their own 
living. Their principal reason then was, that monks must 
till their ground with their own hands, instead of living 
upon property which belongs to the clergy. Very different 
were the maxims of Cluny ; one bishop alone gave sixty 
parish churches to different priories of the Cluniac 
order s. Exclusive of the parish churches in and about 
Cluny itself, more than 150 churches were at one time 
in the gift of the abbot ^. It is easy from this fact, to 
frame an idea of the almost pontifical power of the ruler 
of this vast abbey ; and the whole of the affairs of the 
house were conducted on a scale of corresponding gran- 
deur. It was not in the person of the brethren that 
this magnificence was seen, at least not in the good times 
of Cluny, for the price which their habit was to cost was 
fixed ^, and they were not above menial arts, such as 
taking their turn in the kitchen as cooks ; but the Church 
and the buildings of the abbey were in a style which 
befitted its importance. So far, then, were they from 
giving up tithes and church lands, in order to depend on 
their own labour for daily bread, that manual labour 
was very little practised at all. Udalric, the compiler 
of their customs, says that he must ingenuously confess, 
that their manual labour was confined to shelling beans, 
weeding the garden, and sometimes baking bread. Their 
time was occupied in long and splendid services in the 
Church, in reading, praying, and meditation, and in the 
usual routine of the abbey. They were even allowed 

8 Pet. Ven. de MiracuUs, 1. 23. » Bibl. Cliin. col. 1753. 

1 Udal. 1. 30. 


to write after vespers, when all were sitting in the 
cloister in silence, provided the pen slipped so noise- 
lessly over the parchment, that no sound broke the 
perfect stillness I How is it possible, says Peter the 
Venerable, for monks fed on poor vegetable diet, 
when even that scanty fare is often cut oif by fasts, to 
work like common labourers in the burning heat, in 
showers of rain and snow, and in the bitter cold 1 Be- 
sides, it was indecent that monks, which are the fine 
linen of the sanctuary, should be begrimed with dirt, 
and bent down with rustic labours I The good part of 
Mary must not thus yield to that of Martha. And yet 
Stephen and his companions found it possible to do all 
this. Their poor worn-out bodies did not sink under 
their heavy burdens, nor were the garments of their 
souls less white because they were thus exposed to suf- 
fer from the inclemency of the season. It was^ indeed, 
inexplicable, even to their contemporaries, how they 
thus could live ; but the secret lay in the fervency of 
the spirit, which kept up the lagging flesh and blood ; 
their lives were above nature, and because, for Christ's 
sake, they gave up church-lands and tithes, in order to 
be poor. He bore them up, so that they did not faint 
under their labours. Besides, they were not the less 
like the lowly Mary sitting at the Lord's feet, because 
they worked in the fields ; suffering is not incompatible 
with the better part. The order which produced St. 
Bernard cannot be accused of not being contemplative. 
While their bodies were bent in agricultural labours their 
souls were raised to heaven. Again, they had an expe- 
dient by which they were enabled to remain within 
a short distance of the cloister, however scattered their 
farms might be, and thus no time was lost in journey 
2 Udal. 2. 24. ^ p^^. Ven. Ep. 1. 28. 


to and from the place of their labour, and they could 
always return to the duties of the choir, and be within 
the monastery at the times set apart for meditation. 
Alberic at once felt the difficulty of keeping up the 
choir service, when the monks might be obliged to 
sleep in the farm-houses, or, as they were called, granges 
of the monastery, and he determined on obviating it by 
turning to account the institution of lay brethren, which 
had subsisted for a long time in the Benedictine order. 
It arose from the nature of things, and not by a regular 
distinction into choir and lay brethren, at the time of 
the taking of the vow, as it was afterwards to be. 
Amongst a great number of monks, many could neither 
read nor write, and had not faculties for learning the 
choir services ; it was natural that these should be 
employed in the many menial offices which a large mo- 
nastery would require. Hence arose the institution of 
lay brethren ; it however appears to have taken its most 
systematic shape at the very beginning of the Cistercian 
order. Some of them dwelt in the abbey itself, others 
in the scattered and lonely granges around it ; they 
kept the flocks and herds of the community, and were 
its tailors, shoemakers, and blacksmiths. Those who 
were in the granges were excused from the fasts of the 
order, except in Advent, and on the Fridays from the 
14th of September to Lent*. Whenever the bell of the 
abbey rang for a canonical hour they fell on their knees, 
and in heart joined the brethren who sang the office 
in the abbey church. There were thus in every Cister- 
cian abbey " two monasteries, one of the lay brethren, 
another of the clerics 5." The choir brethren were thus 
enabled always to work within a short distance of the 

^ Nomasticon, Inst. Cap. Gen. 1. 14. 
5 Dial, inter Clun. et Cist. 3. 43. 


abbey, and were strictly forbidden to remain a whole 
night in any of the granges, without pressing necessity. 
The relations between the choir and lay brethren were 
of the closest kind ; instead of being treated as slaves, . 
as they were by their feudal lords, these poor children 
of the soil, and artizans, were looked upon as brothers, 
and were by a special law of the order to partake in 
all spiritual advantages as though they were monks, 
which in fact they were, in all but the name, for they 
made their vows in the presence of the abbot, like the 
other brethren. Politicians, who love equality and 
liberty, may thank the monks for placing on a level 
the nobleman and the villain, and for ennobling the 
cultivator of the soil by stooping down to his lowliness, 
and partaking of his labours. The world may thank 
Alberic for this scheme, by which the choir brother 
imparted his spiritual goods to the poor lay brother, 
who in turn by his labour gave him time for singing 
the praises of God during the night, and for medi- 
tating on his glories continually. The disciples of 
Alberic and Stephen in after time followed their steps ; 
and Alanus, one of the greatest of the schoolmen, finished 
his life in the rough and lowly labours of a lay brother 
of Citeaux, and was represented in a recumbent figure 
on his tomb, in their habit, holding a rosary in his hand. 
There are few more touching pictures in the annals of 
Citeaux, than the story ^ of the poor lay brother sitting 
to watch by night in the lonely grange, thinking of his 
brethren in the abbey, while they celebrated the feast of 
the Assumption, and repeating over and over again the 
angelic salutation with such devotion, that the angels 
brought news of it to St. Bernard, then preaching on 
the subject of the feast-day at Clairvaux. 
^ Manriquez in ann. 1129, c. 6. 




The customs of Citeaux have been thus minutely 
contrasted with the customs of other places, that the 
reader might know with whom he had to do, what 
Cistercians were, and why they were not Cluniacs, or 
Carthusians, or simply Benedictines, though they so 
strictly professed St. Benedict's rule. They are not an 
order yet, but only a monastery, and that a very poor 
one ; it was left to Stephen afterwards to constitute 
them an order ; they were not even yet Cistercians, but 
only the poor brethren of New Minster in the wood 
of Citeaux, and we have called them Cistercians by 
anticipation. Alberic's rules were very well kept by 
his brethren ; so that the fervour of the monastery began 
to be noised abroad. Their old patron, the Duke of 
Burgundy, was astonished at them ; while some other 
monks put themselves in the way of receiving the alms 
of the faithful, these brethren hid themselves from the 
world. It seemed wonderful how they could subsist in 
such a damp, out-of-the-way hole as that in which they 
had seated themselves. Nothing was heard of them, 
except that day and night went their bells, first the bells 
for matins, then the great bell tolling out for the lay 
brethren to get up, and all day long for the hours, and 
for vespers in the evening, and compline at night-fall. 
Nobody knew how they lived, except that their white 
habits were seen in the fields, as they worked j and yet 


they asked for nothing. There they were, a wonderful 
fact in the way of all irreligion and wickedness, men, 
whose faith was not an abstraction, but who evidently 
believed that Christ had come down from heaven to die, 
since such was their love for Him, that they chose to 
be like Him in all things, even in suffering. And there 
was the prior Stephen, leading them out to work with 
his sweet smiling face, notwithstanding all this suffer- 
ing'. His spirit had continued unbroken through all 
his trials, and well might he now be joyful in the Lord, 
since God had so blessed him in them ; he had borne 
the cross when it entered into his soul, and he now 
tasted the joy which it always brings with it. Truly 
" wisdom is justified of her children," and so thought 
Odo of Burgundy, for he loved the poor monks, and 
the forest of Citeaux, and he built him near the abbey 
a lodge, which in after times was still called the palace 
even in its ruins. At most of the principal festivals he 
would come there with his court ; he would not cele- 
brate them in the cathedral of Chalons, or in the 
monastery of St. Benignus of Dijon, but he loved better 
the brethren of the new monastery, for they sang the 
praises of God so sweetly, and with such joy, that his 
heart was touched, and caught fire at their devotion. 
He found, in the same year as Alberic made the above 
rules, an opportunity of assisting the monks 2. It will 

* Guil. Malm. Gest. Reg. lib. iv. 

^ The Cistercian annalist places this gift in the year 1102, when 
it could not have happened, for Duke Odo set out for Jerusalem 
in 1101. The charter preserved in Du Chesne, Histoire Genealo- 
gique des Dues de Bourgogne, says, that it was "post biennium," 
that is, in the third year after the foundation of Citeaux, in March 
1098. It would thus come into the year 1101. This charter also 
proves that the author of TArt de verifier les Dates is wrong in 
making him leave Burgundy in 1097. 


be remembered, that only a portion of Citeaux had been 
given by the Viscount of Beaune ; the rest had been 
given them by Odo of Burgundy, who agreed to pay 
the lord of Beaune twenty solidi a year for the hire of 
the land. The collectors of the revenues of the lord 
of Beaune, however, found it a much easier matter to 
get the money from the monks, who would bear pa- 
tiently to be oppressed, than from the people of the 
duke of Burgundy. They therefore applied to the 
monastery for the twenty shillings, instead of applying 
to the treasury of the duke. The monks paid the 
demand in silence, though they could ill afford it out of 
the poor returns which their lands yielded. At length, 
Odo heard of the exaction, and determined to free them 
from it for ever, by assigning a portion of his own 
ground to the lord of Beaune, out of the produce of 
which he was to help himself to his twenty shillings ; 
and the viscount, in return, freed the monks for ever 
from all claims which he himself, or his heirs, might 
have upon them. This was indeed the last service 
which the good duke rendered them, for he set out for 
the Holy Land that very year in which he conferred 
this benefit on the monastery. Jerusalem had not long 
been taken by the crusaders, and Christendom was now 
arming in support of Godfrey's new kingdom, which 
was hemmed in on all sides by infidels. The crusaders 
had obtained possession of the holy sepulchre ; but as 
if to show that the keeping of this precious treasure 
depended on the good behaviour of Christians, God 
never permitted them to hold it by a firm tenure. Its 
honoured guardians had to defend it at the point of the 
sword ; the harness was hardly ever off their back, and 
no crown could be less easy than that of Jerusalem. 
Odo of Burgundy never reached the Holy Land j he 


died in 1102, almost as soon as he had reached the 
army of the crusaders. On his death-bed the sweet 
song of the Cistercian choir rung in his ears, and he 
desired that his body should not lie in a foreign land, 
but should be carried across sea and land to be buried 
at Citeaux. So his followers obeyed his dying request, 
and brought his remains back to Burgundy. In dying 
he gave the last proof of affection for the brethren of 
Citeaux, by wishing to be buried among them. He 
might have been buried beneath the walls of many a 
cathedral or abbey church, better befitting the high and 
puissant duke of Burgundy, but he chose to lie where 
his faithful monks would watch around his body, and 
say a prayer for his soul as they passed his tomb. 
Times were indeed changed with the old wood of Ci- 
teaux, which had a few years before been the habi- 
tation of wild beasts ; and now the funeral procession 
of a prince might be seen moving through it ; and it 
was a strange meeting, that of the banners and coronet, 
and the armour of the deceased duke, with the white 
habit of the monks, who had renounced the world and 
its honours. They had given up pomp and grandeur, 
and now one of the highest princes in Christendom was 
come to lie down at their feet, that they by their inter- 
vention might assist his soul before the tribunal of Christ. 
Truly many men would wish to live in a king's court, 
but most would rather in death be with the monks. It 
is not known in what part of the first Church of Citeaux 
Duke Odo was buried ; indeed it is doubtful whether 
his body did not lie in the cemetery among the monks. 
In the magnificent Church afterwards built at Citeaux, 
his tomb was under the porch of the Church, in a place 
called the Chapel of the Dukes, where his two sons were 
buried with him. 


/n^o be the burial-place of the princes of the earth was 
not, however, enough for Citeaux ; and however regular 
and admirable was his abbey, yet Alberic had one care 
which pressed upon his soul. It seemed as if the very 
existence of the convent was likely to pass away with 
the present generation, for no novices arrived to fill up 
the ranks of those who died. If matters did not mend, 
Citeaux would return again to its former possessors, 
wolves and wild-boars. Alberic's patience was sorely 
tried; it was not only that their name would perish 
from the earth, which would be but a light evil, but the 
failure of Citeaux would be a proof to the world that 
the monks of Molesme were right, and that St. Bene- 
dict's rule could not now be observed to the letter. It 
was too much for mortal man to bear, it might be said ; 
and God had shown His disapproval of this over-strict- 
ness, by depriving the monastery of spiritual children. 
They passed many a long day in expectation of an in- 
crease of numbers, but the monks who joined them were 
far too few to give hope of the ultimate continuance 
of the monastery. Alberic however persevered, feeling 
sure that at all events it was God's will that he should 
continue in his present position, and he left the future 
in God's hands. Stephen and he had seen worse days 
than this, when they were compelled to leave Molesme, 
and to betake themselves to the solitude of Hauz, and 
it might please God to reward them with the sight of 
an increase of their spiritual children before they died. 
Alberic certainly did die long before Citeaux became 
what it afterwards was ; but our Lord is said to have 
given him a supernatural intimation that his order would 
one day flourish beyond his expectations. The vision 
is mentioned by no contemporary writer, but we give it, 
because nothing can be said against the truth of it, in 


itself, and because it contains some remarkable circum- 
stances. Considering the influence that Citeaux after- 
wards had upon the fortune of the Church, there is no 
improbability in the supposition that our blessed Lord 
might, in his condescension, be pleased to console the 
abbot, when his courage was flagging, by extraordinary 
means. It is said, that one day, the community was 
surprised by the entrance of a clerk, who offered himself 
as a novice. The porch of the monastery at which the 
new-comer knocked was not an inviting one; it was not 
an imposing archway with a large gate, with bolts and 
bars ; it was a poor door of wicker work, at which hung 
a huge iron knocker, at the sound of which a porter 
appeared with his usual salutation of Deo gratiaSj as if 
he would say. Thanks be to God that He has sent us a 
stranger to feed and entertain. This time, however, the 
new-comer seemed to be no stranger ; he seemed to recog- 
nize the porter, though the monk could not recollect ever 
to have seen him before. When brought to the abbot, he 
appeared to know him also, as well as the prior Stephen, 
and all the brethren. At length he solved the mystery, 
by relating his history. He was a clerk, who, when a 
student of the schools of Lyons, saw in a vision a valley, 
stretched at the foot of a mountain, and on the mountain 
was a city of surpassing beauty, on which none could gaze 
without joy, as its radiant towers crowned the eminence 
on which it was built. The beholder felt a strange and 
irresistible desire to enter its gates and dwell there. 
Around the base of the mountain, however, was a broad 
river, the waters of which flowed about it, and were too 
deep for the traveller to ford. As he roamed about in 
quest of a place where he might cross it, he saw upon the 
bank, twelve or fourteen poor men washing their gar- 
ments in the stream. Amongst them was one clad in a 


white garment of dazzling brightness, and his counte- 
nance and form were very different from the rest ; he went 
about helping the poor men to wash the spots off their 
clothes; when he had helped one, he went to help an- 
other. The clerk went up to this august person and said, 
"What men are jeV And he answered, " These poor 
men are doing penance, and washing themselves from 
their sins ; I am the Son of God, Jesus Christ, without 
whose aid neither they nor any one else can do good. 
This beautiful city which thou seest is Paradise, where I 
dwell ; he who has washed his clothes white, that is, done 
penance for his sins, shall enter into it. Thou thyself 
hast been searching long enough for the way to enter into 
it, but there is no other way, but this one, which leads to 
it." After these words the sleeper awoke, and pondered 
over the vision. Soon after he returned home from the 
schools, and related to the bishop of Chalons, with 
whom he was intimate, what he had seen in sleep. The 
bishop advised him to quit the world for the cloister, and 
above others recommended the new monastery at Citeaux. 
Thither the clerk went, and he found everything un- 
promising enough ; the place was barren and desolate, 
and the brethren dwelling " with the wild beasts." The 
gate of the monastery did not look a whit more inviting, 
but what was his astonishment when he saw the porter 
who answered to the sound of the rude knocker ; he im- 
mediately saw that he was one of the men whom he had 
seen washing their clothes white in the stream. On 
seeing the abbot and the other brethren, he observed the 
same thing, and he at once fell on his knees at the feet 
of Alberic, and begged to be received as a novice. He 
afterwards became a good monk, and succeeded Stephen 
as prior. 




From the time of the admission of this monk, which 
took place in the year 1104, there is a great gap in the 
Cistercian annals. The greater portion of those chapters 
in the greater and smaller Exordium of Citeaux which 
relate to the abbacy of Alberic have been lost; and 
nothing more is heard of Stephen till the year 1109, 
when Alberic died. The Exordium simply mentions his 
death in the following few words, "Now the man of 
GoHf Alberic, after having exercised himself in the 
school of Christ by the discipline of the rule, for nine 
years and a half, departed to the Lord, a man glorious 
in faith and virtue, and therefore to be blessed by God 
in life everlasting for his merit." He died on the 26th 
of January. St. Alberic has been canonized by the 
veneration of the faithful, and many miracles are said 
to have taken place at his tomb. Certainly, if any one 
deserved well of the Church, it was St. Alberic. The 
regulations which he passed into laws may be called the 
first statutes of the order, and they first gave to Citeaux 
a tangible form by which it was distinguished from other 
monasteries. He worked on in faith, without seeing the 
fruits of his labours, and he was called away from it 
when the infant community was in great perplexity. It 
seemed dying away as its members successively died, and 
bade fair not to outlast its first generation. His death 
was therefore a most painful trial to Stephen, who was 


thus deprived *of his friend and companion, whom he 
had found at Molesme, when he first came there, and 
who had shared with him all his hardships ; now he was 
left alone when he most needed counsel and support. 
Stephen's spirit seems, however, to have risen with the 
thought that his dear friend already possessed his crown, 
and might help him with his prayers even more than he 
had done with his counsels when alive. He had as prior 
to incense and sprinkle with holy water the body of his 
friend, and to throw earth upon it, when it lay in the 
grave ; and then the procession returned in inverse order, 
the lay brethren and the convent first, and himself last, 
with the cross borne before him ^, They then repaired 
to the chapter, where he addressed them a discourse 
which has been preserved. "All of us have alike a 
share in this great loss, and I am but a poor comforter, 
who myself need comfort. Ye have lost a venerable 
father and ruler of your souls ; I have lost, not only a 
father and ruler, but a friend, a fellow-soldier and a 
chief warrior in the battles of the Lord, whom our vene- 
rable father Eobert, from the very cradle of our monastic 
institute had brought up in one and the same convent, 
in admirable learning and piety. He is gone from us, 
but not from God, and if not from Grod, then not from 
us ; for this is the right and property of saints, that when 
they quit this life they leave their body to their friends, 
and carry away their friends with them in their mind. 
We have amongst us this dear body and singular pledge 
of our beloved father, and he himself has carried us all 
away with him in his mind with an affectionate love ; 
yea, if he himself is borne up to God, and joined with 
Him in undivided love, he has joined us too, who are in 

' Usus Cist. p. i. 98. 


him, to God. What room is there for grief 1 Blessed 
is the lot, more blessed he to whom that lot has fallen, 
most blessed we to be carried up to such a presence, 
for nothing can be more jojful for the soldiers of Christ, 
than to leave this garment of flesh, and to fly away to 
Him for love of whom they have borne so many toils. 
The warrior has got his reward, the runner has grasped his 
prize, the conqueror has won his crown, he who has taken 
possession, prays for a palm for us. Why then should 
we grieve ? Why mourn for him who is in joy *? W hy 
be cast down for him who is glad 1 Why do we throw 
ourselves before God with murmurs and mournful words, 
when he, who has been borne up to the stars, is pained 
at. our grief, if the blessed can feel pain ; he who by an 
earnest longing prays that we may have a like consum- 
mation. Let us not mourn for the soldier who is at 
rest ; let us mourn for ourselves, who are placed in the 
front of battle, and let us turn our sad and mournful 
words into prayers, begging our father who is in triumph, 
not to suffer the roaring lion and savage enemy to 
triumph over us." Such were Stephen's words when he 
had just parted with his dearest friend ; as usual he seems 
to rise with his difficulties. Indeed he had full need of 
this bold spirit, for he was about to succeed the sainted 
Alberic in his most painful dignity. The monks una- 
nimously elected him their abbot, and he found himself 
with the whole weight of the spiritual and temporal 
direction of the new convent on his shoulders. William 
of Malmesbury says that he was absent at the time that 
he was elected, and some suppose that he withdrew from 
Citeaux for fear of being elected. It does not, however, 
appear how his absence could have prevented his election, 
unless he intended to leave Citeaux altogether, of which 
there is no record whatever. Saints fly from dignities. 


which bring with them rank and splendour -, but the 
poor abbey of Citeaux had nothing to recommend it but 
hardship and labour, and these were a species of distinc- 
tion from which Stephen was not the man to shrink. It 
is therefore most probable that some other motive occa- 
sioned his absence, though it does not appear what it 
was. He elected Robert, the monk who saw the vision 
which we have related, prior in his room. 




Stephen found himself heir to all St. Alberic's diffi- 
culties, as well as to his dignity. He received from him 
a convent perfect in its internal arrangement, but one 
which men seemed rather disposed to admire at a distance, 
than to enter. The new abbot, however, felt certain that 
the principle on which Citeaux had been founded was 
right ; it was one which must in time catch all the 
ardent spirits in the Church, who wished to be monks 
in order to crucify the flesh, and not merely to seek for 
peace. Hatred of poverty had been the great bane of 
monasteries, and his aim was to restore the primitive 
discipline of St. Benedict, which had well nigh been 
forgotten. In order to do this, he must not only exhibit 
it in his own person, but he must create, so to speak, 
a monastery in full operation, one to which novices 
crowded, and which was to last to the end of the world, 
a school of Christian discipline. He took what would 
appear a strange expedient to entice novices to Citeaux. 
His first act was, to all appearance, the cutting off all 
earthly support from the monastery. Hugo, the suc- 
cessor of Odo, the duke of Burgundy, who was buried 
at Citeaux, followed his father's example in frequenting 
the church of the monastery on all great festivals. He 
brought with him a large train of nobles, whose splendid 
appointments were but an ill match for the simplicity 
and poverty of the church. The presence of this 



brilliant array seemed to Stephen ill-suited to the place ; 
the jangling of steel spurs, and the varied colours of the 
dress of the courtiers, were a poor accompaniment to the 
grave chaunt and the poor habit of the brethren. Every 
one knows that the sight of a king's court is pleasing, 
and men go a great way to see it ; now the echo of 
earthly pleasure and the presence of earthly joy are in- 
consistent with the profession of a monk, whose conver- 
sation ought to be in heaven. Men may say what they 
will about ideal perfection, but it is a sure fact, that 
saints are very much nearer perfection than we may 
think. Human frailties are on the long run unavoidable ; 
but, at all events, the frailty of liking the vicinity of 
princes and nobles in not one of these, for Stephen did 
avoid it. He declared that no prince should henceforth 
hold his court in the church of Citeaux. Apparently 
this act was at once cutting himself off from all earthly 
protection ; the presence of a ducal court was no empty 
show, it was a guarantee that swords would be drawn 
and lances put in rest to defend Citeaux. All this 
Stephen, as it seemed, threw away ; he knew that God 
specially guarded the destitute, and he preferred the 
guardianship of saints and angels to that of an earthly 
prince. Grod rewarded his faith, for he did not ulti- 
mately lose the favour of Hugo, who after his death 
rested side by side with his father in the chapel under 
the porch of the abbey church. Before that time, how- 
ever, the community had suffered many a hardship, 
which might have been averted had the powerful duke of 
Burgundy been as good a friend to the convent as here- 
tofore. Stephen's next step was one with which modern 
notions of monasticism are still more inconsistent. He for- 
bade that, says the Exordium, " in the house of God, in 
which they wished to serve God devoutly day and night 


any thing should be found which savoured of pride and 
excess, or can in any way corrupt poverty, that guardian 
of virtue which they had chosen of their own accord." 
According to this, no crucifixes of gold or silver were 
to be used ; one candlestick alone was to light up the 
church, and that not branching with elaborate ornaments, 
and studded with precious stones, but of iron ; censers 
were to be of brass ; chasubles, not of gold and silver 
tissue, or of rich silk, but of common stuff; albs and 
amices of linen ; copes, tunicles, and dalmatics were 
inexorably excluded. Even the chalices were not to be 
of gold, but silver gilt, as was also to be the pipe through 
which they received the blessed Blood of the Lord in 
the Holy Eucharist. This was indeed a strange way 
of attracting novices : the monastic j^hurches were fre- 
quented by men on account of the splendour of the 
services, for sacred vessels, and al&rs afforned with gold 
and gems, for the number of ecclesiastics in splendid 
vestments passing to and fro before their eyes in seemly 
order. But by this act Stephen proclaimed to the world^ 
that they did not wish their church to be crowded with 
visitors ; they wished to remain known only to God, in 
the heart of their marshy forest; but he knew that there 
must be many in the Church who longed to serve Grod 
in poverty and oblivion, and he reckoned upon receiving 
them into Citeaux. The novice who came there must 
come from the pure love of God, since he even gave up 
what was considered the heritage of monks, and the 
compensation for their toils, a striking ceremonial, and 
solemn rites. This is indeed very different from the 
notion which our fancy frames of monks, men of warm 
imaginations, who retired to a cloister to wear a pic- 
turesque habit, and to be free from toils ; and it reads 
a salutary lesson to those whose Catholicism consists in a 


love of " aesthetic " religion. Stephen did not at all, by 
rejecting these means of external devotion, intend to 
pronounce against the consecration of the riches of the 
world to the service of the sanctuary ; he was a monk, 
and had to do with monks alone ; it was quite certain 
that St. Benedict intended poverty to be an essential 
feature of the cloister, and Stephen was determined to 
prove that St. Benedict's rule might be kept in the 
twelfth century as it had been in the sixth. The Church 
was not in her dotage, and her children could do then 
what they had done before. Another reason for the re- 
jection of splendour of worship was, because it interfered 
with meditation, properly so called, the contemplation 
of heavenly things without the aid of the senses. Not 
only were splendid vestments excluded from Citeaux, 
but, as we learn from its early statutes ^ sculptures and 
pictures were not allowed in the church, " because, 
while the attention is given to such things, the profit of 
godly meditation and the discipline of religious gravity 
are often neglected." Without determining which of the 
two is the better, it will at once be seen, that the devotion 
which floats to heaven on the sounds of beautiful music, 
and is kept alive by a splendid religious scene, is very 
different from that which, with closed eyes, and senses 
shutup, sings the praises of God, and at the same time 
is fixed on the heavenly mysteries without any inter- 
mediate channel. This latter species of devotion can 
only exist without danger in the Catholic church, whose 
creed is fixed and her faith unchangeable, while she 
herself is an external body, the image of her Lord. 
Stephen, therefore, could securely reject, to a certain 
extent, the aid of external religion ; for his mind, trained 

' Inst. Cap. Gen. i. 20. 


in the Catholic faith, had a definite object to rest upon, 
the Holy Trinity, with the inexhaustible and incompre- 
hensible treasures of contemplation therein contained. 
Though the chalice was not of gold, he knew what was 
in it, even his blessed Lord ; and he could think upon 
the saints, with their palms and crowns in heaven, though 
their images were not sculptured about him. Again, 
though sculptures and paintings were not allowed, yet 
one image is expressly excepted ; crucifixes of wood, 
painted to the life, were placed in the church, and these 
must, from the colouring and material, have been much 
more real than golden or silver figures, however well 
sculptured, could have been. It should also be observed, 
that architecture is not excluded from this list of prohi- 
bitions ; the old church of Citeaux, built in Stephen's time, 
still existed when Martenne^ came to visit the monastery ; 
it stood in all its simplicity beside the vast and splendid 
edifice, a strange relic of the ancient times of Citeaux ; 
yet, notwithstanding the contrast, its beauty is praised 
by the Benedictine. The line which Stephen marked 
out for himself was therefore definite ; costliness, pomp, 
and unnecessary ornaments were excluded, but beauty of 
shape was kept. He would not have a misshapen chasu- 
ble, though he eschewed cloth of gold, nor would he 
have an unsightly church, though he loved simplicity. 
It is scarcely possible to conceive a better type of Citeaux 
than a great Norman church, such as is seen in the 
abbeys of Caen, with its vast round arches and simple 

2 Voy. Lit. i. 223. Martenne there incidentally says, that this 
church was consecrated in 1106 ; if so, it must have been a different 
church from that built by the duke of Burgundy. This event is not 
recorded by the Cistercian historians ; no notice has been taken of it 
in the text, because the Benedictine gives no authority for the asser- 
tion, though it is exceedingly likely in itself. 


shafts clustering round a massive pier ; even its austere 
capitals, looking like an imitation of the architecture 
of the Roman empire, might come in as the counterpart 
of Stephen's notion of going back to St. Benedict as his 

These new regulations of the abbot of Citeaux were 
the more bold, because they were directly opposed 
to what may be called the leading religious men of 
the day. St. Hugh of Cluny died the very year that 
they were put in force, and the state of things which 
he had introduced at Cluny of course acquired a new 
sanctity from the saintly memory which he had left 
behind him. DiiFering as they did in other respects, 
nothing can shew the difference of his spirit and that of 
Stephen, more than the contrast between them in this 
particular, St. Hugh had a great fondness for eccle- 
siastical ornaments. " He said within himself," writes 
his biographer, " with the Prophet : ^ Lord, I have loved 
the beauty of Thy house and the place where Thine 
honour dwelleth ;' and whatsoever the devotion of the 
faithful gave, he entirely consecrated to adorning the 
church or to the expenses of the poor 3." The vast 
church which he built at Cluny, (as it is said, by the 
Divine command conveyed in a vision,) was reckoned 
the most beautiful of his time ; it contained stalls in 
the choir for 220 monks. It had two side aisles and 
two transepts, and two vast lanterns gave light" to 
the whole. At the upper end was a beautiful apse sup- 
ported by eight marble columns, each of which could 
hardly be embraced by two men. All the precious 
things of the world were consecrated to the adornment 
of this splendid basilica : one beautiful corona of lights, 

3 Hildebert ap. Bibl. Clun. 420. 


the gift of Matilda, queen of England, made after the 
pattern mentioned in Exodus % especially caught the 
eje of beholders, as it hung before the high altar : it 
was made of gold and silver, and its delicate branches 
blazed with crystals and beryls interspersed among its 
beautifully wrought lilies^. Even the immense hall, 
which was the refectory of the convent, had its own 
religious ornaments ; it was painted all round with 
figures of saints of the Old and New Testament, and of 
the founders and benefactors of Cluny : but the prin- 
cipal object was a large figure of our Lord, with a 
representation of the terrible day of judgment. All 
the ceremonies in the church were most solemn and 
imposing, seen by the dim light of its narrow windows^ 
cut through the thick wall, or with the sun shining 
through the ample lanterns; or again with its blaze of 
lights, and specially the seven before the holy Cross on 
the night of our Lord's nativity, when the church was 
adorned with rich hangings, and all the bells rang out, 
and the brethren walked in procession round the clois- 
ters, their hearts burning with the words of good St. 
Hugh, spoken the evening before in the chapter 7. Who 
could blame the holy abbot for enlisting the senses in the 
service of religion ? he could not be accused of pomp or 
pride, who in his simplicity took his turn in washi ng 
the beans in the kitchen^; his heart, in the beauties of 
the sanctuary saw but an image of the worship in the 
courts of heaven, and was not entangled or brought 
down to earth by the blaze of splendour around him. 
Still all this, as we have said before, was a development 
upon St. Benedict's rule and does not seem to have 

* Exod. XXV. 31—39. ^ -q^-^i Q^n. 1640. 

6 Ann. Ben. torn. v. p. 252. 

7 Udal. 1. 11. 46. Bibl. Clun. 1273. « Udal. 1. 46. 


been contemplated by him : if he had walked in a 
Cluniac cloister, and had seen its grotesque ornaments, 
with the apes and centaurs peeping out from the rich 
foliage, the huntsmen with horns and hounds, and the 
knights fighting together on the walls 9, he would 
hardly have known where he was. Stephen's doubtless 
was the original conception of monasticism, which time 
had altered, if it had not corrupted. St. Hugh would 
have the church all glorious within, and her clothing 
without of wrought gold ; but Stephen wished her to be 
like her Lord, in whom was found no comeliness that 
men should desire Him ; but Stephen's pastoral staiF was 
a crooked stick such as an old man might carry ; St. 
Hugh's was overlaid with foliage wrought in silver, 
mixed with ivory i : yet the souls of both were the work- 
manship of that One blessed Spirit, who divideth to every 
man severally as He will. Though the abbot of Cluny 
took advantage of all the treasures of art and nature, 
and turned them to the service of God, while on the 
other hand Stephen in many cases rejected the help of 
external religion, yet both could find a place in the 
Catholic Church, whose worship is not carnal, nor yet 
so falsely spiritual as to cease to be the body of the 

» St. Bern. Apol. ad Gull. ' Voy. Lit. i. 226. 




The consequence of Stephen's thus boldly casting off 
the protection of the duke of Burgundy, and all that 
could attract the world into the solitude of Citeaux, 
soon began to be visible. In the year 1110 it was dis- 
covered that the world was inclined to forget those who 
had forgotten it ; for either from the failure of crops, 
or from some other unknown cause, the convent was 
reduced to a state not only of poverty but of beggary, 
and no one was found to relieve it. Stephen's was but 
a poor abbacy ; he had now been scarcely a year in his 
new dignity, and he found himself lord of a starving 
community ; but he had already counted the cost, and he 
knew that his Lord would not leave his servants to die 
of want in the depths of their forest. His countenance 
was therefore not a whit less smiling on account of his 
difficulties, and he cheered up his brethren by his 
earnest words. At length the extremity of want came 
upon the monastery, and one day the brother cellarer 
came to the abbot and informed him that there was not 
enough for one day's provision in the house. " Saddle 
me two asses," was Stephen's only answer : when they 
were ready, the abbot himself mounted one, and bade 
a lay-brother mount the other. He then ordered his 
Kjompanion to beg bread from door to door in a certain 
village ; while he himself went to beg in another, and 
he appointed a place where they should meet after 


making their rounds. To a passing stranger the holy 
man must have looked very like one of those Sarabaitse 
or wandering monks, of whom St. Benedict speaks, on a 
voyage in quest of gain, so strange must have been his 
figure, mounted as he was on the ignoble beast, in his white 
habit, and his rough cowl over his shaven head ; but his 
face was radiant with joy, for never was he more like 
his blessed Lord, than when he was thus reduced to 
beggary. After having gone through the village, beg- 
ging as he went, he met this lay-brother returning 
from his task ; on comparing notes the brother's wallet 
was found to be very much more full than his superior's. 
" Where hast thou been begging ^ " said the abbot, with 
a smile ; " I see thou hast been gleaning in thicker 
stubble than I. Where, prithee, hast thou been glean- 
ing*?" The lay-brother answered, "The priest whom 
you know full well filled my wallet," and he mentioned 
the priest's* name. The abbot at once recognized the 
priest to be one who had obtained his benefice by simony. 
It was then in the thick of the contest about investitures, 
and Stephen shuddered at receiving aught from hands 
stained with such a sin; and he groaned aloud and said, 
" Alas I for thee ; why didst thou receive aught there ? 
thou didst not know, then, that that priest had been 
simoniacally ordained ; and what he has accepted is 
leprosy and rapine. As the Lord liveth, of all that he 
has -given us, we will taste nothing. God forbid that we 
should eat of his sin, and that it be turned into the sub- 
stance of our bodies ! " He then called some shepherds, 
who were near the spot, and emptied all the contents 
of the wallet into their laps. This is but one instance, 
which has been preserved almost by chance, of the 
difficulties under which the convent laboured, and of 
Stephen's unworldly way of meeting them ; the par- 


ticulars of their daily life in these trying times have 
been forgotten. Many other facts of the same sort 
doubtless were handed down and told by the monks in 
after-times, as this which we have mentioned was re- 
lated by Master Peter, surnamed Cantor ; but the con- 
vent traditions have died away, and the chronicles have 
not recorded more, till we come to the last acts which 
closed these times of difficulty. It was by what would 
be called a strange coincidence that the wants of the 
brethren were at last relieved. The monks called it 
a miracle wrought by God at Stephen's prayers ; and 
if the truth be told, we think they were right. It 
seems to be but scriptural to believe that it happened, 
as our Lord has promised, " He that believeth on Me, 
the works that I do shall he do also ; and greater works 
than these shall he do, because I go to the Fatheri." 
However, the reader shall judge for himself. It was 
a long dreary season, the time of this downright beggary 
of Citeaux. It was of no great consequence during 
Lent ; but Lent passed away, and Easter came without 
alleviation. Still the monks, buoyed up by the cheerful- 
ness of their abbot, did not allow their spirits to flag, and 
only rejoiced the more because they suffered for Christ's 
sake. At length Pentecost came, and it was found 
that there was hardly bread in the house to last out the 
day ; nevertheless the brethren prepared for the mass 
of that great day with ecstacies of joy. They began to 
chaunt the solemn service with overflowing hearts, and 
before the mass was over God rewarded their faith, 
for succours arrived at the gate of the monastery from 
an unexpected source. " In these and the like events," 
says the old monk who relates it, "the man of God, 
Stephen, weighing within himself how true are those 
^ John xiv. 12. ♦ 


words of Scripture, ^ They who fear the Lord shall want 
no manner of thing that is good,' looked with wonder 
on the bounty and mercy of God on himself and his 
brethren : more and more did he progress in holy 
religion, and gloried in the straits of blessed poverty, as 
in all manner of riches." At length the crisis came ; 
even after the mercy of God on Whitsunday their suffer- 
ings were not over, nay, they were at their height, and 
with them proportionately rose the abbot's faith. He 
called to him one of the brethren, and, as says the same 
historian, " speaking to him in the Spirit of God, said 
to him, ' Thou seest, dearest brother, that we are 
brought into a great strait by want ; nay, well nigh are 
our brethren's lives brought into peril by hunger, cold, 
and other sufferings. Go then to the market of Vezelay, 
which is very soon coming on, and buy there three 
waggons, and for each waggon three horses, strong and 
fit for draught, of which we are very much in need for 
carrying our burdens. And when thou hast laden 
the waggons with clothes and food and other necessaries, 
thou shalt bring them with thee, and come back to us 
in joy and prosperity.'" The poor brother was aston- 
ished at the good abbot's command, and it probably 
crossed him that he was sent on a fool's errand ; how- 
ever, in the spirit of holy obedience he said, " I am ready, 
my lord and father, to obey thy commands, if thou wilt 
but give me money to buy these necessaries." The abbot, 
however, had no such intentions ; he felt quite sure in his 
royal heart that the crisis was come, and that God was 
now going to help them. As a physician can see deeper 
into a disease when it is at its height than the bystanders, 
so can the spiritual man see into God's providence further 
than other men. He issued, therefore, his orders with 
a quiet tone, as if the wealth of Peru was at his com- 


mand. Regardless of the monk's astonishment, he said, 
" Be it known to thee, brother, that when, in care and 
anxiety, I searched for means for relieving the wants 
of our brethren, I found but three pence in the whole 
house. Take them, if thou wilt. As for the rest, 
whatever is wanting, the mercy of the Lord Jesus 
Christ will provide it. Go then without fear, for the 
Lord will send his angel with thee, and will prosper 
thy way." It is not on record whether the monk took 
the three pence with him ; but it is certain, whether he 
did or no, that they would not help him much on his 
mission. However, he started for the town which the 
abbot had mentioned. When he got there, he went to 
the house of a friend, and told him of his difficulties. 
Now it happened that a rich neighbour of this friend 
was on his deathbed, distributing alms to the poor. 
Thither then the man went, and related in what straits 
were the monks of Citeaux, whose holiness was well 
known all over the country ; the dying man on hearing 
this, sent for the monk, and gave him as much money 
as would suffice to buy all that the abbot had ordered. 
Away then he went, and bought his three waggons and 
nine horses, and all the articles of which the brethren 
stood in need, and then started merrily for Citeaux. 
When he got near the monastery he sent word to the 
abbot that he was coming, and how accompanied. 
Stephen, in the holy rapture of his heart, assembled the 
chapter and said, "The God of mercy, the Lord God 
of mercy has frankly and bountifully dealt with us. 
Yea, nobly indeed, generously indeed, hast Thou done, 
Thou who providest for us, our Shepherd, opening Thine 
hand and filling our poverty with plenteousnes." Then 
the abbot put on his sacred vestments, and took his 
pastoral staff in his hand, and with the whole convent 


in procession, the cross and holy water solemnly borne 
before him, went to meet the brother and his convoy at 
the abbey gate. This was the last of the trials which 
Stephen had to undergo from the failure of the temporal- 
ities of his convent. The alms of the faithful flowed 
in apace, and the cellarer had never again to report an 
empty granary to the abbot. 




All, however, was not over yet ; the sorest trial of all 
was yet to come, far worse than the obstinacy of the 
monks of Molesme, or the penury of Citeaux. In the 
year 1111 and 1112, a mortality broke out amongst the 
brethren ; and Stephen saw several of his spiritual chil- 
dren dying off one by one before his eyes. In that year 
the whole Church was sick, for it was then that pope 
Pascal was held in captivity by the emperor Henry V., 
and what was worse, gave up the right of granting 
investitures. Then some bishops spoke harsh words 
against the sovereign pontiff, that he should be deposed, 
and the hearts of all men were failing them for fear. 
But the repentance of Pascal and the firmness of the 
bishops, and specially of Guide, archbishop of Vienne, 
saved the Church after a season. It was during this time 
of confusion for all Christendom, that Citeaux was in 
mourning. First one brother went, and then another ; 
independently of all other considerations, the loss of men 
who had borne with him the burden and heat of the day, 
must have been most painful to Stephen. The ties 
which bound one member of a religious community to 
another, in death as well as in life, were of the closest 
kind. As in life they had helped one another on in 
the painful task of crucifying the flesh, so in death they 
who remained behind on earth helped their brother, who 
was passing away before them from this world, by their 


prayers and by their presence. Though monks all their 
lives through looked death in the face in frequent medi- 
tations, yet they did not consider that they could ever 
be too well prepared for that dreadful moment. It is 
dreadful; not only because the soul is about to appear 
before its God, but also because it is an hour of actual 
conflict with the devil, who then often marshals all his 
powers for a last effort, and endeavours to shake the faith 
of the dying man. It was therefore the rule in a con- 
vent, that all the brethren should come unto the death- 
bed of a dying monk to help him against his spiritual 
enemy. The death of a brother was thus a subject of 
personal interest to each member of a convent, and in 
this point of view alone, the successive deaths of his 
friends must have been a bitter trial to Stephen. As 
abbot, it was his lot to go, at the head of the brethren, 
clad in alb, stole, and maniple, and with his pastoral 
staff in his hand, to the chamber of the dying man, to 
administer to him extreme unction, and to give him the 
holy rood to kiss^. Again and again during those two 
painful years he was summoned to the bedside of the 
brother, to anoint his limbs before his soul passed away 
from his body. And how often when the last agony 
was actually come, did the harsh strokes of the wooden 
mallet 2 which usually called the convent together, re- 
sound through the cloister, together with the tolling of 
the bell, to summon the community to the death-bed of 
a brother ! Then all labour was hastily given up, and 
even the divine office was broken off, and all went to 
the dying man's room, repeating aloud the words of the 
Creed. There they found him lying on ashes sprinkled 
on the floor in the form of a cross, for that was the pos- 

» Usus Ord, Cist. i. 93. ^ Tabula. 


ture in which monks died ; and then they commended 
his soul to God with Litanies and the Penitential Psalms. 
In all these mournful ceremonies, and in all those which 
took place around the corpse before and at the burial, 
Stephen as abbot had the chief place ; the crosses and 
the graves silently multiplied before him in the church- 
yard, and still no novices arrived to fill the empty stalls 
of those who were dead. The cause of the mortality is 
not known ; it may have been that the marshy soil of 
the wood had not been properly drained, and that the 
brethren sunk under the damp air, to w^hich, from their 
long abstinence, their bodies were peculiarly sensitive. 
It could not have been the austerity of their life alone, 
for thousands afterwards followed their steps, and died 
of a good old age ; still it was certain that the world 
would put it down to that cause, and even the monks of 
the day would look upon the convent as one cursed by 
God on account of the fanatical austerities of its inmates. 
Stephen's cares thus multiplied upon him, and he found 
no consolation from them except in the time of the 
divine office. It is recorded of him, that after the 
evening collation was read, as he entered into the church 
he used to pause at the entrance with his hand pressing 
on the door. One of the brethren, whom he especially 
loved, frequently observed this silent gesture as he went 
into church, and ventured to ask him what it meant. 
"The holy father," says the Exordium, "answered, ^I 
am forced during the day to give free course to many 
thoughts for the ordering of the house ; all these I bid 
to remain outside the door, and I tell them not to 
venture in, and to wait till the morrow, when I find 
them all ready for me after Prime has been said.'" 
However the abbot might manage to drive away dis- 
tressing thoughts during the quiet hours of the night, 


while the monks were chaunting the office in church, yet 
they recurred with tenfold force during the day, when 
all the cares of the house came upon him, while his 
spiritual children were dying about him. At times even 
his faith all but failed; it crossed his mind that the 
monks who scoffed at Citeaux might after all be right. 
The Cistercian manner of life might be displeasing to 
God, and the frequent deaths of the brethren and the 
barrenness of the monastery might be a punishment for 
their presumption in attempting to go beyond what God 
allowed. Pain in itself is not pleasing to God, and an 
austere life, unless it be joined by charity to Christ's 
sufferings, becomes simple pain, for His merits alone 
convert our sufferings into something sacramental, and 
make them meritorious in the eyes of God. He might 
therefore have been leading his poor brethren into the 
wilderness, and have made them there perish with hunger, 
and their blood would be required at his hands. These 
melancholy thoughts tormented him, and at last they 
broke out into words, when with the whole convent he 
was summoned to attend the deathbed of another brother 
who was about to follow the many inmates of Citeaux 
who had already died. All the brethren wondered, as 
he spoke the words, at the calm faith with which he 
pronounced them, notwithstanding the deep anxiety 
which they displayed. Thus then in the presence of all 
he addressed the dying man. " Thou seest, dearest 
brother, in what great weariness and failing of heart we 
are, for we have done our best to enter upon the strait 
and narrow way which our most blessed father Benedict 
has proposed in his rule, and yet we are not well assured 
whether this our way of life is pleasing to God ; espe- 
cially since by all the monks of our neighbourhood we 
have long been looked upon as devisers of novelty, and 


as men who kindle scandal and schism. But more than 
all, I have a most piercing grief which cuts me through 
to the heart like a spear, and that is, the fewness of our 
members ; for one by one, and day after day, death 
comes in and hurries us away. Thus I very much fear 
this our new religious institute will perish with our- 
selves, for God has not thought fit, up to this time, to 
associate with us any zealous persons, who love the 
lowliness of holy poverty, through whom we could hand 
down to posterity the model of this our rule of life. 
Wherefore, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, for 
whose love we have entered upon the strait and narrow 
way which He proposes to His followers in the Gospel, 
and by virtue of thine obedience, I command thee, at 
whatever time and in whatever way the grace of the 
same our Lord may determine, that thou return to 
us, and give us information touching this our state, as 
far as His mercy will allow." He spoke these words 
with a quiet confidence, which looked beyond the grave, 
so that he appalled the brethren ; but the dying monk, 
with a bright smile lighting up his features, said, " Wil- 
lingly will I do, my lord and father, what thou com- 
mandest, if only I, through the help of thy prayers, 
shall be allowed to fulfil thy command." The result of 
this strange dialogue, held on the confines of life and 
death, was not long in appearing. The brother died, and 
a few days after he had passed away, the abbot was in 
the fields working with the brethren. At the usual 
time he gave the signal for rest, and they laid aside 
their labour for a while. He himself withdrew a little 
way from the rest, and with his head buried in his cowl, 
sat down to pray. As he was in this position, lo ! the 
departed monk appeared before him, surrounded by a 
blaze of glory, and, as it seemed, rather buoyed up in 


air, than standing on the ground. Stephen asked him 
how he fared. " Well, good father abbot," he answered, 
" well is it with me, and well be it with thee, for by thy 
teaching and care I have merited to obtain that never- 
ending joy, that unknown peace of God, which passeth all 
understanding, to gain which I patiently and humbly bore 
the hard toils of our new order. And now according to 
thy bidding I have returned to bring news of the grace 
and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to thee, father, and 
to thy brethren ; you bade me certify you of your state, 
and I say unto you. Lay aside all doubt, and hold it for 
certain that your life and conversation is holy and pleas- 
ing to God. Moreover, the grief at thy want of children 
to leave behind thee, which gnaws deep into thy heart, 
shall very soon disappear and turn to joy and triumph ; 
for even yet the children, which thou who wast child- 
less shalt have, shall cry in thine ears, ^ The place is 
too strait for us, give place to us that we may dwell ^/ 
For behold, from this time forth, the Lord hath done 
great things for you, in sending many men unto you, and 
among them very many of noble birth and learned. 
Yea, and like bees swarming in haste and flowing over 
the hive, they shall fly away and spread themselves 
through many parts of the world ; and out of that seed of 
the Lord, which by His grace has been heaped together 
here, they shall lay up in the heavenly granaries many 
sheaves of holy souls, gathered from all parts of the 
world." On hearing these words the abbot sat wrapt in 
joy at the favour which the Lord had shown to him. 
Though the heavenly messenger had finished his task, 
he still lingered and remained visible to Stephen ; he 
had undertaken the mission while on earth, in obedience 

* Isaiah xlix. 20 


to his superior, and lie must not go without the leave 
of him who had imposed the task upon him ; just as 
he would have done had he been still a living monk, 
speaking to his abbot in the little parlour at Citeaux, 
the glorified spirit waited for the benediction of the 
father. At length he said to Stephen, " It is now time, 
lord abbot, that I return to Him who sent me ; I 
pray thee dismiss me in the strength of thy blessing." 
Stephen shrank back at the thought of assuming autho- 
rity over that blessed soul, and at last broke silence : 
" What is it that thou sayest ? Thou hast passed from 
corruption to incorruption, from vanity to reality, from 
darkness to light, from death to life, and thou wouldest 
be blessed by me, who am still groaning under all these 
miseries? This is against all just right and reason; I 
ought rather to be blessed by thee, and therefore I pray 
thee to bless me." But the glorified brother answered : 
" Not so, father, for the Lord hath given to thee the 
power of blessing, for He has placed thee on a pinnacle 
of dignity and of spiritual rule. But me, thy disciple, 
who by thy healthful doctrine have escaped the stains 
of the world, it befits to receive thy blessing ; nor will 
I go hence till I have received it." Stephen, though 
confused and filled with wonder, did not dare to refuse, 
and lifting his hand, he blessed him, and the happy soul 
immediately disappeared, leaving him in a transport of 
wonder at the favour which our Lord had accorded to 
him. It required a holy daring at first to seek for 
this mysterious meeting ; and none but one who, like 
Stephen, had from dwelling alone with the Lord, in the 
wilderness and forest, realized the unseen world, could 
have behaved with calmness and presence of mind, 
when that world was so suddenly opened upon him. 
A modern philosopher has in mere wantonness sported 


on the brink of the grave, and made such an agreement 
as Stephen made with his dying disciple ; but this bold- 
ness arose from infidelity, Stephen's from strong faith, 
and God punished the infidel for thus tempting Him by 
leaving him in his error, while He rewarded the holy 
abbot by a vision 2. Let no one venture into the world 
unseen, who does not live above the world of sense. 
Stephen, however, was now rewarded for all his trials, 
and for his confidence in God, who never forsakes those 
that trust in Him. He passed at once from the dreadful 
state of uncertainty which had harassed him, to one of 
assurance ; he had still a long and dreary journey before 
him, and his crown was not yet won, — nay it might still 
be lost ; but at all events, he now felt sure that the path 
on which he had entered was the very narrow way of 
the Lord, and not one which he had chosen for himself 
in self-will. 

2 " Osborne went to the West Indies, where he became an emi- 
nent lawyer, and made money, but died young. He and I had 
made a serious agreement, that the one who happened first to die, 
should, if possible, make a friendly visit to the other, and acquaint 
him how he found things in that separate state. But he never ful- 
filled his promise." — Franklin's Life, vol. i. p. 57. 





The vision not only assured Stephen that the Cistercian 
way of life was acceptable to God, but seemed also to 
prophesy a speedy increase of numbers in the monas- 
tery. Shortly afterwards another event occurred, which 
the monks interpreted as pointing the same way. 
Another of the brethren was dying, and on his death- 
bed he told the abbot that he had dreamed that he saw a 
vast multitude of men washing their clothes in a fountain 
of most pure water near the church of Citeaux, and that 
he heard a voice saying that the name of the fountain 
was ^non. This it will be remembered was the name 
of the place where the austere St. John baptized a mul- 
: titude of men with the baptism of repentance. The 
I dream then was taken to mean that a multitude would 
1 come to Citeaux to wash their stained garments white 
by penance. Whatever the vision portended, it is cer- 
tain that the days of mourning for Citeaux were nearly 
over. Fourteen years of widowhood and barrenness had 
now passed away since its first foundation, and the fif- 
teenth at last was to bring consolation with it. In the 
year 1113, the iron hammer which hung at the lowly 
gate of the monastery sounded, and a large number of 
men entered the cloister, which was hardly ever visited 
except by some traveller who had been benighted in 
the forest of Citeaux. Thirty men entered, and coming 
to Stephen, begged to be admitted as novices. There 


were amongst them men of middle age, who had shone 
in the councils of princes, and who had hitherto worn 
nothing less than the furred mantle or the steel hauberk, 
which they now came to exchange for the poor cowl of 
St. Benedict ; but the greater part were young men of 
noble features and deportment, and well might they, for 
they were of the noblest houses in Burgundy. The 
whole troop was led by one young man of about 
twenty-three years of age, and of exceeding beauty^. 
He was rather tall in stature ; his neck was long and 
delicate, and his whole frame very thin, like that of a 
man in weak health. His hair was of a light colour, 
and his complexion was fair ; but with all its paleness, 
there was a virgin bloom spread over the thin skin of 
his cheek. His face was such as had attracted the 
looks of many high-born ladies 2; but an angelic purity 
and a dovelike simplicity shone forth in his eyes, which 
shewed at once the serene chasteness of his soul. This 
young man was he who was afterwards St. Bernard, 
and who now came to be the disciple of Stephen, bring- 
ing with him four brothers and a number of young 
noblemen, to fill the empty cells of the novices of 
Citeaux. Well was it worth toiling all the cold dreary 
night of expectation, if such was to be the ultimate re- 
sult of the fishing. " On that day," says an old monk, 
" the whole house seemed to have heard the Holy 
Spirit responding to them in these words, ' Sing, bar- 
ren, thou that didst not bear ; break forth into singing, 
and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child, for 
more are the children of the desolate than the children 

^ Vid. Description of St. Bernard's person .by Gaufridus, intimate 
friend and secretary of the Saint, and afterwards abbot of Clairvaux. 
St. Bern. Vit. i. lib. iii. 1. Ed. Ben. 

2 Guil. i. 3. 


of the married wife.' " Stephen's expectations were ful- 
filled to the letter; those regulations which appeared 
so little likely to attract novices to the convent, had 
brought St. Bernard to its gates. If he had wished to 
attract the lukewarm and indifferent, he would have 
made rules of another kind ; so true is it that the chil- 
dren of wisdom have a policy of their own, though it be 
different from that of the world. St. Bernard would 
have been received with open arms by the monks of 
any order, — nay, he might have created an order for him- 
self j but he preferred finding out the poorest and most 
hidden monastery in the world, and he found that it 
was Citeaux, just following the train of reasoning which 
Stephen knew would be that of a saint-like mind. 
During the whole time of the desolation of Citeaux, and 
the internal conflicts of its abbot, the Holy Spirit had 
been silently leading Bernard, and preserving him from 
the world, that he might come pure and undefiled to this 
poor abbey. All that concerns him is of such vital im- 
portance to a clear understanding of the work which 
Stephen was sent upon earth to perform, that the history 
would be incomplete without an account of the steps 
which brought him to sit at the feet of our abbot. It 
was not without a painful struggle that he had been 
brought there, as indeed such is God's way; all great 
saints have had great trials, for there can be no cruci- 
fixion without pain. After the death of his mother, 
whom he loved tenderly, and to whom Grod entrusted 
the forming of his holy mind, he began to think seri- 
ously of becoming a monk. Though she died in his 
youth, yet her sacred memory haunted him even in 
manhood, and she is even said to have appeared to him 
to beckon him on to the cloister. The beauty of his 
person and the corrupt manners of the age, more than 


once at this critical time put his purity in danger, and 
though through the grace of the Holy Spirit, he walked 
through the midst of the burning fire even without feeling 
it, yet he determined to shun a world where wickedness 
so abounded. His noble birth would have opened his 
way to the highest dignities of the Church ; " but," says 
his historian, " he deliberated in what way he could most 
perfectly leave the world, and began to search and to 
trace out where he could most safely and most purely 
find rest for his soul under the yoke of Christ. The 
place which occurred to him in his search was the new 
plantation of Citeaux, where monastic discipline was 
brought anew to what it had been at first. There the 
harvest was plenty but the labourers were few, on ac- 
count of the exceeding severity of the life and of its 
poverty, at a time when the fervour of the monks 
at their first conversion was hardly at all on the 
decline." Bernard had no intention of becoming a 
monk, with a mitre and pastoral staff in reversion ; 
his object was that his life should be hid with 
Christ in God, and that his conversation should be 
in heaven. His first step was, however, comparatively 
easy : but much remained to be done before Stephen 
received his illustrious disciple within the walls of 
Citeaux. Bernard had gained a victory over the con- 
cupiscence of the flesh, and over the pride of high-birth ; 
military glory, which was the passion of all his brothers, 
had no attractions for him, but he had still a weak side 
on which the tempter could assail him, and this was the 
pride of intellect. No one can read his writings with- 
out seeing the wonderful genius which they show : the 
same burning eloquence which made him a Christian 
preacher, if it had been heard in kings' courts would 
have carried all before it ; and the acuteness with which 


he at once sees deep into metaphysical questions, would 
have put him at the head of philosophical schools. 
And was all this to go too 1 Was his tongue to remain 
silent in Cistercian dreariness *? and his acuteness to be 
buried with rude and unlearned monks 1 Yes, so it 
was j all was to be sacrificed, beauty of form, noble 
birth, quickness and depth of thought, brilliant elo- 
quence ; all were to be nailed to the cross, and he was 
to become a common labourer, planter, reaper, plough- 
man, and if so be, hedger and ditcher, wrapped in a 
coarse cowl, with low-born men for his fellows. We 
have not yet spoken of one tie, perhaps the strongest of 
all, and the one which cost the most pain to break, and 
that was the love of friends and relations. The slightest 
acquaintance with his life will show the painful struggle 
of his aiFections, even when he was abbot of Clairvaux ; 
how he mourns with passionate grief over the death of 
his brother, or still more over the spiritual death of any 
one whom he knew. Besides his kinsmen, his brilliant 
and amiable qualities had endeared him to all the flower 
of the nobles of Burgundy. As soon as the slightest 
hint was known of Bernard's intention, all these were 
up in arms ; there were his sister Humbeline, a noble 
and beautiful young lady, his eldest brother Guido, 
already a married man, and a good soldier of the duke 
of Burgundy ; Grerard too, the accomplished knight, 
the enthusiastic soldier, and the prudent leader, beloved 
for his sweet disposition, and his friend Hugh, the lord of 
Macon, all thinking his project absurd, and himself 
half mad. Was he to throw himself at the feet of a 
fanatic, like Stephen, and to bury himself in the corner 
of an old wood ? The thing must not be. Impossible 
indeed it was with man ; but very possible with God, 
This was one of the wonders of the cross, going on 


about them, which was in time to shake the whole of 
France, — nay, the whole world. Even they themselves 
discovered that it was possible ; it was a dangerous 
thing to come across Bernard in his vocation, as they 
soon found to their cost. However, though they could 
not move, yet they could cause much pain to Bernard. 
As he acknowledged afterwards, his steps were well 
nigh turned back, and the struggle was most painful. 
If it had not been for his mother's memory he would 
have fallen, but her sweet lessons were evermore recur- 
ring to his mind and urging him on. One day, he was 
on his way to see his brothers, who were then with the 
army of the duke besieging the castle of Grancey; 
these thoughts burst so forcibly on his mind that he 
entered into a church which was open by the wayside, 
and prayed with a torrent of tears, stretching his hands 
to heaven, and pouring out his heart like water before 
the Lord his God. From that hour the purpose of his 
heart was fixed, and he set his face stedfastly to go to 
Citeaux. " It was not, however," pursues his historian, 
" with a deaf ear, that he heard the voice of one saying, 
* Let him that heareth say, Gome.' Truly, from that 
hour, like a flame which burneth the wood, and a fire 
consuming the mountains, here and there, first seizing 
on all about it, then going forth to things farther away, 
thus the fire which the Lord had sent into the heart 
bf his servant, and had vrilled that it should burn, first 
attacks his brothers, all but the youngest, who could not 
yet go into religion, and who was left to comfort his old 
father, then his kinsmen, fellows, and friends, and all of 
whose conversion there could be any hope." First came 
his uncle Galdricus, a puissant noble and a valiant 
knight, well known for feats of arms ; he quitted his 
good castle of Touillon, his vassals and his riches, and 


gave in to the burning words of his nephew. Then the 
heavenly fire kindled his young brother Bartholomew ; 
his heart gave way easily, for he had not yet been made 
a knight, having still his spurs to win. Then came 
Andrew, the fourth brother ; it was a sore trial to him to 
give up the world, for he had just received his knightly 
sword from the altar, at the hands of a bishop, and had 
seen his first field ; but at last he yielded, for he saw 
in a vision his sainted mother smiling upon him, and 
he cried out to Bernard " I see my mother," and at once 
gave in. But the trial was still sorer when it came to 
the turn of Guy, the eldest of the brothers ; he was a 
married man, and his young wife loved him tenderly, 
besides which he had more than one daughter, with 
whom it was hard indeed to part in the age of their 
childhood ; and even after he had yielded to his bro- 
ther's persuasions, and had broken through all these ties^ 
a greater difficulty than all remained behind. It was a 
law of the Church, that neither of a married pair could 
enter a cloister without the consent of the other ; and 
how was it possible that a delicate and high-born woman 
could consent to part with her husband and enter into a 
monastery ? Bernard, however, declared to Guy, that if 
she did not consent, God would smite her with a deadly 
disease ; and so it turned out ; she soon after fell ill, 
and "finding," says William of St. Thierry, "that it 
was hard for her to kick against the pricks, she sent for 
Bernard" and gave her consent. None, however, clung 
to the world with such deep-rooted affection as Gerard, 
the second brother : as we said before, he was a frank 
and high-spirited soldier, yet, withal, sage in counsel, 
and he had won all about him by his kind-heartedness. 
The world was all open before him ; his talents were sure 
to raise him to high rank and honour ; and he was 


ardently fond of feats of chivalrous daring. To him 
the conduct of his brothers seemed to be mere folly, 
and he abruptly repelled Bernard's advice. But the 
fire of charity was still more powerful than the young 
knight's ardour ; " I know, I know," said Bernard, 
" that pain alone will give wisdom to thine ears," and 
laying his hands upon Gerard's side, he continued, " A 
day will come, and that soon, when a lance, piercing 
this side, will tear a way to thy heart for this counsel of 
thy salvation which thou dost despise ; and thou shalt 
be in fear, but shalt not die." A few days after this^ 
Gerard had, in the heat of the battle, charged into the 
midst of the enemy ; there he was unhorsed, wounded 
with a lance in the very place where Bernard had laid 
his finger, and dragged along the ground. His brother's 
words rose before him, and he cried out, " I am a monk, 
a monk of Citeaux." Little did Stephen think, in the 
midst of his perplexities, that the name of his poor 
monastery had been heard in the thick of a deadly 
fight, and that a nobleman had chosen that strange place 
to make his profession, with swords pointed at his breast, 
and lances and pennons flying about him. Notwith- 
standing Gerard's exclamations, he was taken captive, 
and lodged in a dungeon within the castle of his ene- 
mies ; he, however, soon after made his escape from 
prison in a way which seemed perfectly miraculous, and 
joined his brother Bernard. Now the whole band of 
brothers had been won over ; but Bernard was not yet 
satisfied ; the fields were white for the harvest, and he 
went about collecting his sheaves, that he might lay 
them all up in the garners of Citeaux. Hugh, the lord 
of Macon, was also to be brought to Stephen's feet ; the 
young nobles drew together into knots in self-defence, 
whenever Bernard passed by, for fear of being carried 


away by his powerful word ; mothers hid their sons, 
lest in the flower of youth they should hide themselves 
in a cloister. All, however, was in vain ; " as many," 
says the abbot of St. Thierry, " as were so pre-ordained 
by the grace of God working in them, and the word of 
his strength, and through the prayer and the earnestness 
of His servant, first hesitated, then were pierced to the 
heart ; one after another they believed and gave in." 
Thirty men of the most noble blood in Burgundy were 
thus collected together ; as many of them were married 
men, their wives also had to give up the world ; all 
these arrangements required time, and for six months 
they put off their conversion till their affairs could be 
arranged. The females retired to the Benedictine 
monastery of Juilly, whence afterwards it is supposed 
that many were transferred to the first Cistercian nun- 
nery, the abbey of Tard, near Dijon. When the time 
for proceeding to Citeaux was come, Bernard and his 
four brothers went to the castle of Fountains, which 
was their family place, to take leave of their father and 
sister. This was their last glimpse of the world ; they 
then left all and followed Christ. The little Nivard 
was playing about with other boys as they passed. 
Guy, the eldest brother, stopped his childish glee for a 
moment, to tell him that all the broad lands of Foun- 
tains, and many a fair portion of the earth, were to be 
for him. " What," said the boy, " earth for me, heaven 
for you ! the bargain is not a fair one." Probably he 
knew not then what he said, but as soon as he could 
he followed his brothers. Thus the old father was left 
to sit alone in his deserted halls with his daughter 
Humbeline ; he was now a barren trunk, with the 
choice boughs lopped off; his noble line was to come 
^0 an end, and when he dropped into the grave, the 


castle of his fathers was to pass into the hands of 

Now, it may be asked, that Stephen has housed his 
thirty novices, what has he or any one else gained by 
it 1 what equivalent is gained for all these domestic 
ties rudely rent, for all these bleeding hearts torn asun- 
der, and carrying their wounds unhealed into the clois- 
ter ? Would not rustics suit Stephen's purpose well, 
if he would cultivate a marsh in an old wood, without 
desolating the hearths of the noblest houses of Burgundy? 
Human feeling revolts when high nobles with their steel 
helmets, shining hauberks, and painted surcoats, are 
levelled with the commonest tillers of the soil ; and even 
feelings of pity arise when high-born dames, clad in min- 
ever, and blazing with jewels, cast all aside for the rough 
sackcloth and the poor serge of St. Benedict ; what shall 
we say, when young mothers quit their husbands and 
their families to bury themselves in a cloister'? There 
are here no painted windows and golden candlesticks, 
with chasubles of white and gold to help out the illusion ; 
feeling an imagination, all are shocked alike, and every 
faculty of the natural man is jarred at once at the thought. 
Such words might have been spoken even in Stephen's 
time, but " wisdom is justified of her children." One 
w^ord suffices to silence all these murmurers ; Ecce Homo, 
Behold the Man. The wonders of the incarnation are 
an answer to all cavils. Why, it may as well be asked, 
did our blessed Lord choose to be a poor man, instead 
of being clothed in purple and fine linen ? why was His 
mother a poor virgin 1 why was he born in an inn, and 
laid in a manger 1 why did He leave His blessed mother, 
and almost repulse her, when she would speak to Him ? 
why was that mother's soul pierced with agony at the 
sufferings of her divine Son ? why, when one drop of 


His precious blood would have healed the whole crea- 
tion, did He pour it all out for us ^ in a word, why, 
when He might have died (if it be not wrong to say so) 
what the world calls a glorious death, did He choose 
out the most shameful, besides heaping to Himself every 
form of insult, and pain of body and soul 1 He did all 
this to show us, that suifering was now to be the natu- 
ral state of the new man, just as pleasure is the natural 
state of the old. Suffering and humiliation are the 
proper weapons of the Christian, precisely in the same 
way that independence, unbounded dominion and power, 
are the instruments of the greatness of the world. No 
one can see how all this acts to bring about the final 
triumph of good over evil ; it requires faith, but so does 
the spectacle of our blessed Lord, naked on the cross, 
with St. Mary and St. John weeping on each side. 
After casting our eyes on the holy rood, does it never 
occur to us to wonder how it can be possible to be 
saved in the midst of the endearments of a family, and 
the joys of domestic life'? God forbid that any one 
should deny the possibility ! but does it not at first sight 
require proof that heaven can be won by a life spent in 
this quiet way^ Again, let us consider the dreadful 
nature of sin, even of what are called the least sins, and 
would not any one wish to cast in his lot with Stephen, 
and wash them away by continual penance? Now if 
what has been said is not enough to reconcile the 
reader's mind to their leaving their father in a body, 
which looks like quitting a positive duty, it should be 
considered that they believed themselves to be acting 
under the special direction of God. Miracles were 
really wrought to beckon them on ; at least they were 
firmly convinced of the truth of those miracles, which is 
enough for our purpose, and they would have disobeyed 



what they conceived to be God's guidance, if they had 
remained in the world. Miracles, indeed, cannot be 
pleaded to the reversing of commands of the Decalogue ; 
but persons leave their parents for causes which do not 
involve religion at all, as to follow some profession in a 
distant quarter of the globe, or to marry ; and we may 
surely excuse St. Bernard and his brothers for conduct 
which was so amply justified by the event. One word 
more ; every one will allow, that he who is continually 
meditating on heaven and heavenly things, and ever has 
his conversation in heaven, where Christ is sitting at 
the right hand of God, is more perfect than he who is 
always thinking on worldly affairs. Let no one say 
that this perfection is ideal, for it is a mere fact 
that it has been attained. Stephen and Bernard, and' 
ten thousand other saints, have won this perfection, and 
it may be and is won now, for the Church verily is not 
dead, nor have the gates of hell prevailed against her. 
All cannot attain to such a high state on earth, for it is 
not the vocation of all. It was, however, plainly God's 
will that all Bernard's convertites should be so called, 
from the fact of their having attained to that state of 
perfection. They were happy, for to them it was 
given not to fear those words of our Lord, " Whosoever 
loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of 
me ;" or again, that terrible saying, spoken to one who 
asked to go and bury his father, " Let the dead bury 
their dead." Moreover, they knew that blessing, 
" Verily, I say unto you. There is no man that hath left 
house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or 
wife, or children, or lands for my sake and the Gospel's, 
but he shall receive an hundred-fold now in this time, 
houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and 
children, and lands, with persecutions ; and in the world 


to come eternal life." Bernard did receive back both 
father and sister, for his father died in his arms a monk 
at Clairvaux, and his sister also in time retired to a 
cloister. Let any one read St. Bernard's sermons on 
the Song of Solomon, and he will not doubt that monks 
have joys of their own, which none but those who have 
felt them can comprehend. 




The times of refreshing from the Lord had indeed 
come to the forlorn monastery ; the unheard-of conver- 
sion of so many noble youths filled the world with 
wonder. It was a proof that the Church was not only 
not dead, but not even asleep. At the beginning of the 
eleventh century, the heart of Christendom seemed to 
have failed, and all men thought that the world was 
coming to an end ; throughout the whole of the century 
the Church was either preparing for, or actually engaged 
in a deadly struggle with the civil power, and in that 
miserable confusion men seemed to have lost their land- 
marks, and not to know what was to come of all the 
perplexity which they saw about them. Meanwhile, 
the Church herself felt the deteriorating effects of the 
struggle j men saw the strange spectacle of courtier- 
bishops, acting as the ministers of kings, and behaving 
in all respects like the wild nobles, from whom they 
were only distinguished by wearing a mitre, and carry- 
ing a crozier. Let any one think how bishops be- 
haved in the contest between St. Anselm and the king, 
or again in Germany, how many of them sided with the 
emperor against the pope, and he will see how the feudal 
system had worked upon the Church. In the begin- 
ning of the twelfth century, the struggle seemed as 
doubtful as ever, when the emperor Henry V., like a 
loving son of the Church that he was, took Pope Pascal 


prisoner in the very Basilica of St. Peter, and would 
not let him go till he had given him a blessing ; that 
is, till he had given up the question of investiture, 
and acknowledged himself vanquished by crowning his 
tyrant 1. This, however, was the last act of the great 
struggle : three years after Bernard's entrance into 
Citeaux, the Church resumed her former attitude, when, 
in the Lateran council, the pope acknowledged his 
error, and allowed the bishops to excommunicate the 
emperor. The time of the triumph of the Church was 
at hand ; but though she might conquer the powers of 
the world, how was she to expel luxury from her own 
bosom 1 Enough has been said in these pages to show, 
that the cloister itself was deeply infected by a spirit of 
worldly pomp. What was worst of all, even Cluny, the 
nurse of holy prelates and of great popes, was degene- 
rating : in St. Hugh's time, its vast riches had been 
used in the service of God; but now that he was dead, 
it became evident in how precarious a situation is a 
rich monastery. One bad abbott is enough to spoil the 
whole, and St. Hugh's successor, Pontius, was utterly 
unequal to the task of governing this vast abbey. He 
was a young, ambitious man, high in favour with popes, 
emperors, and all great men, the go-between of high 
personages in important matters, and withal specially 
neglectful of the business of the monastery. For three 
years he went on well enough; but just about the time 
of the rising prosperity of Citeaux, he began to vex 
the monks by his haughty conduct. To finish a melan- 
choly story, after ten years of bickering he threw up his 
abbey in disgust. After various acts of turbulence, this 
accomplished and high-spirited man, who might have 

* Baronius, in Ann. 1111. 


been one of the greatest personages of his day, died in 
a prison, excommunicated. Out of reverence for Cluny, 
he was allowed to be buried in consecrated ground, and 
long afterwards his tomb was shown in the church, on 
which lay is e^gy, represented with a cord round his 
hands and feet. His mismanagement ruined Cluny for 
a time, and threw the whole of its dependent priories 
into disorder. When the monastic state was thus on 
the wane, how could any improvement be expected in 
the bishops, who were mostly supplied from the monks? 
The Church might shake off the feudal yoke, but how 
was the leprosy of pomp and luxury to be shaken out 
of her own bosom, if her own rulers were tainted ? At 
this juncture, the voice of one crying in the wilderness 
is heard, calling to repentance those who dwelt in kings' 
houses, clothed in soft raiment. Stephen's burning 
love of poverty astonished the world, especially when 
God set His seal upon His servant's work, by bringing 
to his feet such a disciple as Bernard, with a train of 
noble followers. It was a movement in favour of holy 
poverty, which vibrated over the whole of Christendom. 
Robert, Alberic, and Stephen had thus created a new 
idea in the Church ; not that there ever were wanting men 
who would be poor for Christ's sake, but the Cistercian 
monk in his white habit, and his train of lay-brethren 
working for him, that he might have time for contem- 
plation, is a personage the precise likeness of whom has 
never been seen brought out in a regular system before. 
The institution of lay-brethren had always existed, as 
we have said before, but it was more systematized in the 
Cistercians, and had a more distinct object. The lay- 
brethren took charge of the granges, which were often 
at some little distance from the monastery. The choir- 
brethren were thus enabled always to remain within the 


cloister, and had an uninterrupted time for spiritual 
reading and prayer. Meditation had thus a marked 
place in the system ; and it is more observable, because 
the length and intricacy of the splendid services of 
Cluny took up a very great part of the time of the 
monks. The result of this system was, what may be 
called a new school of ascetic writers, of whom St. 
Bernard is the chief, followed by Gilbert of Hoyland, 
abbot of Swineshed in England, ^Elred of Rievaux, and 
William of St. Thierry. The science of the interior 
man thus began to be more especially developed by the 
Cistercian reform. Again, Stephen and his disciples 
were destined to exercise a more direct influence on the 
world than the old Benedictines ; from the fact of there 
being a reform in the particular direction of a revival 
of poverty, they occupied, so to speak, a more militant 
position than the monks before them. They found 
themselves at once opposed not only to monasteries, 
but to all luxurious prelates, and secular churchmen 
who were the favourites of kings, and so, indirectly, to 
kings. We shall soon see, that all the reforms in the 
Church naturally connected themselves with Citeaux, as 
their centre. 




: St. Robert and St Alberic had both a share in the 
establishment of the new monastery ; it was Stephen, 
however, exclusively, who framed the order of jthe Cis- 
tercians. Before his time it was only a single convent ; 
but under him it grew into the head of a vast monastic 
federacy, extending through every country in Europe. 
He was the author of the internal arrangement of this 
large body ; and let no one suppose, that legislating for 
many thousands of monks is at all an easier task than 
settling the constitution of an equal number of citizens. 
Before, however, proceeding to consider Citeaux in this 
dignified capacity, as the queen and mother of an order, 
it will be well to go through the daily exercises of a 
Cistercian convent, that the reader may know what it is 
that is growing up before him. Suppose the monks all 
lying on their beds of straw, ranged in order along the 
dormitory, the abbot in the midst. Each of them lay 
full dressed, with his cowl drawn over his head, with 
his cucuUa and tunic, and even with stockings on his 
feet'. His scapular alone was dispensed with. Doubt- 
less no one complained of heat, for the bed-clothes were 
scanty, consisting of a rough wollen cloth between 
their limbs and the straw, and a sort of woollen 
rug over them 2. The long dormitory had no fire, and 

* Us. Cist. 82. 2 Calmet on c. 55 of St. Ben. Reg. 


currents of air had full room to play under the unceiled 
roof, left in the native rudeness of its beams. A lamp 
lighted up the apartment, and burned all night long. 
At the proper hour the clock awoke the sacristan, who 
slept, not in the dormitory, but near the church. He 
was the timekeeper of the whole community, and regu- 
lated the clock, which seems to have been something of 
an alarum 3, for he used to set it at the right hour over- 
night. His was an important charge, for he had to 
calculate the time, and if he was more wakeful than 
usual, or if his clock went wrong, the whole convent 
was robbed of a part of its scanty rest, and the last 
lesson had to be lengthened that the hour of lauds 
might come right again. The time for rising varied 
with these strict observers of the ancient rule. St. 
Benedict commands that his monks should get up at 
the eighth hour of the night during the winter. In his 
time, however, the length of the hours varied in sum- 
mer and winter. Day and night were each divided into 
twelve hours ; but as the day dawns earlier in some parts 
of the year than in others, the twelve hours of night 
would then be distributed over a less space of time at 
one period than at another, and would therefore be 
shorter. The eighth hour of the night would thus, 
though always two hours after midnight, be sometimes 
closer to it than at others. It, however, always fell 
about two o'clock, according to our mode of reckoning"*. 
In summer, the hour of matins was so fixed, that they 
should be over a short time before lauds, which were 
always at day-break. The sacristan, as soon as he was 
up, trimmed the church lamp, and that of the dormitory, 
and rang the great bell ; in a moment, the whole of this 

^ Us. Cist. 114. * Bona, Div. Psal. c. iv. 3. 


little world was alive ; the sole things which a minute 
ago looked as if they were watching were the two 
solitary lamps burning all night long, one in the dor- 
mitory, the other in the church, as if they were ready 
trimmed with oil for the coming of the Lord ; but now 
every eye is awake, and every hand is making the sign 
of the cross. Most men find it hard to leave even a 
bed of straw, and the seven hours in winter and six in 
summer were but just enough for bodies wearied out 
with hard work, and always hungering ; doubtless the 
poor novice often stretched himself, before the tones of 
the bell which had broken his slumbers fully roused 
him to consciousness ; but starting from bed, and putting 
himself at once into the presence of his Lord, was but 
the work of a moment for the older monk. The prayer 
which they were to say in rising is not prescribed in the 
rule ; it is probable, however, that after crossing them- 
selves in the name of the Holy Trinity, they repeated 
the psalm, Deus in adjutorium meum intended , and then 
walked towards the church. One by one these white 
figures glided along noiselessly through the cloister, 
keeping modestly close to the walls, and leaving the 
middle space free, where none but the abbot walked^. 
Their cowls were drawn over their heads, which were 
slightly bent down ; their eyes were fixed on the ground, 
and their hands hung down motionless by their sides, 
wrapt in the sleeves of the cuculla. The old Cister- 
cian church, after the model of which was built even 
the stately church which afterwards contained all the 
brethren in the flourishing times of Citeaux^, was re- 
markable in its arrangement. It was intended for 

* Martenne, de Antiq. Mon. Rit. lib. i. 1. 27. 

6 Rit. Cist. 1.5. "^ Rit. Cist. 1. 3. 


monks alone ; few entered it but those guests who 
happened to come to the abbey, and they were not 
always allowed to be present^. It was divided into 
four parts ; at the upper end was the high altar, stand- 
ing apart from the wall : the sole object which Cis- 
tercian simplicity allowed upon it was a crucifix of 
painted wood ; and over it was suspended a pix, in 
which the Holy Sacrament was reserved, with great 
honour, in a linen cloth9, with a lamp burning before it 
day and night i. There do not appear to have been 
even candlesticks upon the altar, though two large lights 
burned during the time of mass immediately before it 2. 
The part in front of this most sacred place was called 
the presbyterium, and there the priest, deacon, and sub- 
deacon, sat on chairs placed for them when the holy 
sacrifice was to be celebrated. Next came the choir 
itself, where the brethren sat in simple stalls, ranged on 
each side of the church. In front of the stalls of the 
monks were the novices, kneeling on the pavement 3, 
and sitting on low seats. The stall of the abbot was on 
the right hand, in the lower part of the choir, and the 
prior's place was on the opposite side, just where the 
head of a college and his deputy sit^^ji^-€fflErT^-TMjr_own 
collegiate chapels. Beyond thi^^^^e^'i'etrb-^r^S. 

« Us. Cist. 17. 21. 55. fflT H T V ^^^- '^^- ' ' "^^ I 

^ V. c. 82, in the collection of fflafotea of the general chapters / 
before his time, made by Stephen's^^ccessor. The words, " et 
potest," show, that it was in a place mt^ accessible to all^^^^he 
lamp is mentioned again in a later collection erf stiatutCs; Nom. 
p. 277. Those who know the reverence of St. Stephen's age for 
the Holy Sacrament will be at no loss to know where the lamp was 
placed, though it is not expressly mentioned. For a contemporary 
instance of a light before the high altar, yid. Matt. Par. Vit. Pauli 
Abb. Sti Alb. 

^ Us. Cist. 55. 3 Fosbroke, Monachism, p. 203. 


which was not the Lady Chapel, but was at the other end 
of the church nearest the nave, and was the place marked 
out for those in weak health, but still well enough to leave 
the infirmary \ Last of all came the nave, which was 
smaller than the rest of the church^, unlike the long and 
stately naves of our cathedral churches. Into this church, 
called by the modest name of oratory, the first fathers 
of Citeaux entered nightly to sing the praises of God, 
and to pray for the world, which was lying asleep 
beyond the borders of their forest. It had many sepa- 
rate entrances, by which different portions of the con- 
vent flocked in with a quick step to rouse themselves 
from sleep ; but all in perfect silence : by one side en- 
trance the brethren came in between the presbytery and 
the stalls^, while the abbot and prior, and those about 
him, entered at the lower end ; there was also a door 
leading into the cloister 7^ through which processions 
passed. Each brother as he came in threw back his 
cowl, and bowed to each altar that he passed, and then 
to the high altar. They then, except on Sundays and 
some feast days, knelt in their stalls with their hands 
clasped upon their breasts, and their feet close to- 
gether, and said the Lord's Prayer and the Creed. In 
this position they remained till the Deus in adjutorium 
had been said, when they rose and remained standing 
during the rest of the service, except where it was 
otherwise especially marked. Matins lasted for about 
two hours, during which they chanted psalms, inter- 
spersed with anthems ; the glimmering light of the lamp 
was not intended to do more than pierce through the 
gloom of the church, for the greater part of the service 
was recited by heart, and a candle was placed just in 

* Us. Cist. 101. Rit. Cist. 1. 3. s Voy. Lit. i. •224. 

6 Us. Cist. 68. Rit. Cist. 1. 5. 7 Us. Cist. 7. 21. 


that part where the lesson was to be read^; if it were 
not that their lips moved, they might have been taken 
for so many white statues, for their arms were placed 
motionless upon their bosoms in the form of a cross 9, 
and every movement was regulated so as to be as tran- 
quil as possible ^ The sweet chanting of the early Cister- 
cians struck some of their contemporaries as something 
supernatural. " With such solemnity and devotion do 
they celebrate the divine office," says Stephen of Tour- 
nay, " that you might fancy that angels' voices were 
heard in their concert ; by their psalms, hymns, and 
spiritual songs, they draw men to praise God, and they 
imitate the angels 2." Yet this effect was simply pro- 
duced by common Gregorian chants, sung in unison ;. 
as in the other parts of divine worship, the Cistercians 
were reformers in church music. They sent, in their 
simplicity, all the way to Metz to procure the antipho- 
nary of that church, as being the most likely to be pure 
from innovation, probably because Amalarius, a deacon 
of Metz, was a celebrated liturgical writer in the time 
of the son of Charlemagne ; but they soon found that 
many ages had passed over the Church since the time 
of the great emperor of the West. The book was very 
defective, and was filled with innovations, and they 
immediately set about correcting it-^. Monastic music 
had suffered, as well as other portions of St. Benedict's 
rule ; and our Cistercians speak with contempt of 
womanish counter-tenor voices^, which they inexorably 
banished from their churches. Their chanting was 
especially suited for contemplation : they dwelt on each 

8 Us. Cist. 68. 9 Rit. Cist. 1. 8. 

^ lb. 1. 6. 2 Bona de Div. Psal. 18. 5. 

^^ Tract, de Cantu. in St. Bernard's works. 

* St. Bern, in Cant. 47. Inst. Cap. Gen. 71. ap. Nomasticon. 


syllable, and sucked in the honied sense of the Psalms 
as they pronounced the words. It is not wonderful if 
the men of that time believed that devils trembled, and 
angels noted down in letters of gold^ the words which 
dropped from their lips, as these grave and masculine 
voices chanted through the darkness of the night the 
triumph of good over evil, and the glories of the Lord 
and of His Church. Few, indeed, are worthy to chant 
the Psalms: who can repeat, for instance, the 119th 
Psalm as he should? But Stephen and his brethren 
might pronounce those burning words of the Spirit 
without shame, for they had indeed given up the world. 
" Ignitum eloquium tuum vehementer, et servus dilexit 

After matins were over they never returned to sleep, 
but were permitted either to pray in the church, or to sit 
in the cloister. In summer, when the day dawned upon 
the convent almost as soon as matins were over, the time 
thus allowed was very short, for lauds followed close on 
the first glimmer of morning light. In winter there was 
a considerable interval between lauds and matins, and it 
was during this part of the day that the monk was left 
most to himself This was the time allotted to mental 
prayer, and many a monk might then be seen kneeling 
in his stall, occupied in that meditation which, accord- 
ing to St. Bernard, " gathers itself up into itself, and 
by Divine help, separates itself from earthly things, to 
contemplate God^." It was one of the rules of the order 
that they were not to prostrate themselves full length 
on the ground in church 7, but should keep their souls 
in quiet before God, without violent action. Others 

5 Exord. Mag. 2. 3. « De Con. 5 2. 

7 Inst. Cap. Gen. 86. 


again remained in the cloister, which, with all its strict- 
ness and tranquillity, was a busy scene. Let no one 
think of the cloister as it is now, in a state of desertion, 
about our cathedrals, cold and comfortless, with all the 
glass taken out of its windows ; its religious silence has 
given place to the silence of the churchyard. It was 
formerly the very paradise of the monk, from which all 
the rest of the convent was named ^ ; it shut him out 
from the world " with its royal rampart of discipline," 
and was an image of the rest of heaven. It was the 
passage by which every part of the convent buildings 
were connected, and around which on Palm Sunday 
they walked in procession, with green palms in their 
hands. At the east end of the church, at right angles 
with it, was the dormitory, opposite the church was the 
refectory, and adjoining the church was the chapter- 
house 9; in the centre was a cross. After matins, then 
those of the brethren who were not in the church were 
all together in the cloister. In one part was the cantor 
marking out the lessons, and hearing some brother re- 
peat them in a low suppressed tone ; or else a novice 
would be learning to recite the psalter by heart. In 
another part, ranged on seats, the brethren would sit in 
unbroken silence reading, with their cowls so disposed 

8 St. Bern. Serm. de Div. 42. 

^ Calmet, Regie de St. Benoit. ch. 66. The order observed in 
processions falls in with Calmet's opinion, v. Us. Cist. 17. It is 
there implied that the deacon, who went first, had at the last sta- 
tion of the procession his face to the east and his back to the bre- 
thren. The whole convent, therefore, after having made the round 
of the cloister, and finished at the point where they began, looked to 
the east ; they must, therefore, at first starting from the church, 
have moved towards the east. And this fixes the position of their 
first station, which is known to have been the dormitory, at the east 
end of the church. 


about their heads, that it might be seen that they were 
not Xsleep. It was here that St. Bernard gained his 
wonderful knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, meditating 
/Upon them before the morning light. In another corner 
of the cloister, the boys of the monastery would be at 
school, under the master of the novices. The library, 
from which the monks took the books in which they 
read, was between the church and the chapter-house, 
and was. under the care of the sacristan : and let no 
one despise the library of a Cistercian convent. St. 
Augustine seems to have been a favourite author with 
them^, and Citeaux itself had no lack of expositions of 
Scripture by the Fathers 2. Shall we not be surprised 
to find a copy of the Koran in the armarium of Clair- 
vaux 1 and yet there it was, the gift of Peter the Vene- 
rable, who had ordered it to be translated carefully ^. 
Citeaux had its scriptorium as well as its library, where 
manuscripts were copied by the brethren. It is true 
that the antiquary would despise the handiwork of the 
Cistercians, for no illuminated figures of saints, ela- 
borate capital letters, or flowers in arabesque creeping 
up the margin, were allowed ; jewelled covers and 
gold clasps were also forbidden * ; but instead of this, 
religious silence was strictly observed, and the scrip- 
torium was a place for meditation as much as the 
cloister itself^. Their labours did not consist in simply 
copying the manuscripts ; they took pains to discover 
various readings, and to compare editions. It might 
have been supposed, that the cold winds of the forest, 
with the burning sun and drenching rain, must have 

* Mabillon de Mon. Stud. App. Art. 24. St. Bern, de Bapt. 

2 St. Bern. Vit. Guiller. i. 24. ap. Ben. 

3 Pet. Yen. Ep. 4. 17. " Inst. Cap. Gen. 13. 81. 

* Inst. Cap. Gen. 87. 


fairly bleached out of Stephen's mind all the learning 
which he had gathered in the schools of Paris. But 
he left behind him a work, which proved that he kep 
under his Cistercian habit the same heart which had 
urged him to leave his old cloister of Sherborne to 
study in Scotland and in France. A manuscript edition 
of the Bible, written under the eye of our abbot him- 
self, was preserved with great reverence at Citeaux up 
to the time of the French Revolution. Not content 
with consulting Latin manuscripts, he even had recourse 
to the Rabbins, in order to settle the readings of the 
Old Testament. In this way there could never be a 
lack of books for the brethren to read in the cloister, 
since there was at home a power of multiplying them 
as long as there were friendly monasteries to lend them 
new manuscripts to qo^j when the original stock of the 
library had fail^. 

As the Cirstercians followed the natural divisions of 
the day, the hours in winter and in summer differed 
considerably, as has been already mentioned ; again, the 
ecclesiastical divisions of the year altered their mode 
of living to a great degree. .From Easter to Holy Cross 
day, that is the 14th of September, they broke their 
fast after sext, and had a second meal after vespers, 
except on Wednesdays and Fridays, which were fast- 
days : during the rest of the year, from Holy Cross 
day to Easter, they never had but one meal a day, and 
that after nones, up to Ash Wednesday, but during 
Lent not till after vespers. It will be necessary, there- 
fore, to give a sketch of their mode of living, first in sum- 
mer and then in winter. Lauds, as has been said before, 
followed matins very soon in summer, after which an 
interval was allowed, during which the brethren might go 
to the dormitory to wash themselves, and change portions 



of the dress in which they had slept. As soon as the 
day had fully dawned, prime was sung, and then they 
went into the chapter. If ever there was a scene re- 
volting to human pride, it was the chapter ; more than 
any other part of the monastic life, it shows that a 
convent was not a place where men walked about in 
clothes of a peculiar cut, and spent their time in formal 
actions, but a school of humiliation, where the very 
last roots of self-love were plucked up, and the charity 
of the Gospel planted in its stead. Humility was the 
very soul of the cloister, and a great part of St. Bene- 
dict's rule is taken up with an analysis of the twelve 
degrees of humility, which form the steps of a Jacob's 
ladder, leading up to perfect love, which casteth out 
fear^. Our Cistercians had studied this part of the 
rule well, and St. Bernard's earliest work is a sort of 
a comment upon it. The chapter-house was the place 
where this mingled humility and love was most of all 
exercised. Around it were ranged seats, one above 
another; the novices sitting on the lowest row, or rather 
on the footstools attached to the seats ; in the midst was 
the abbot's chair 7. The chapter opened with the mar- 
tyrology, and with those parts of the service now attached 
to the office of prime. Then followed the commemoration 
of the faithful departed, and, in some cases, a sermon ; 
after which a portion of St. Benedict's rule was read. 
Then each brother, who had in the slightest way trans- 
gressed the rule, came forward and confessed it aloud be- 
fore the whole convent. He rose from his seat and threw 
back his cowl that all might see his face, then he muffled 
up his face and head, and threw himself full length on the 
low stool of the lectern, without speaking a word. At 
length the abbot spoke, and asked him, " What sayest 

« Reg. c. 7. "^ Rit. Cist. 3. 8. 


thou f The brother answered, " Mea culpa/' " It was 
by my fault f then he was bidden to rise in the name 
of the Lord, and he again uncovered his features, and 
confessed his faults, and after receiving a penance, if it 
were necessary, he went back to his seat at the bidding 
of his superior. When all had confessed their own sins, 
then a still more extraordinary scene followed : each 
monk accused his brother if he had seen or heard any- 
thing amiss in him. He rose, and mentioning his name, 
said, " Our dear brother has committed such a fault." 
Happy they who could thus bear to hear their faults 
proclaimed in the face of day, without being angry. 
The angels are blessed because they cannot sin ; next 
to them in happiness are those who are not wrathful 
when rebuked. But what shall we say to the punish- 
ments for greater offences against the rule ? The monk 
who had grievously offended stripped himself to his 
waist, and on his knees received the discipline at the 
hands of a brother in the face of the convent. Blessed 
again are they who thus are willing to suffer shame 
on earth, if by any means they may escape shame at 
the dreadful day of judgment. It was not, however, 
only in public that they confessed their sins ; any mortal 
sins against the rule were to be confessed over again to 
a priest for the benefit of absolution, though they had 
already been proclaimed in the chapter ; and during all 
the intervals of work, before they had broken their 
fast, the brethren might confess their sins in private in 
the chapter. An instance is incidentally related, in 
which a novice, on entering into Clairvaux, made a 
general confession of the sins of his whole life^, and this 
was probably a common practice, though not enjoined 

8 vit. St. Bern. 7. 22. 


by the rule ; at least it had become common at the end of 
the century in which Stephen lived 9. After the chap- 
ter was over, the brethren went out to manual labour^ 
this was one of the peculiarities which distinguished 
Citeaux from Cluny. Their labour was good hard work 
by which they gained their livelihood, and with the 
help of their lay-brethren supported themselves, and 
gave abundant alms to the poor. Few things are more 
remarkable than this mixture of all the details of spades 
and forks, ploughing, haymaking, and reaping, with 
the meditation and constant prayer of the Cistercians. 
During the harvest-time, the daily mass was, if the 
abbot so willed, attended only by the sick and all who 
were too weak to work, for the whole convent was in 
the fields. And when mass was said, the priest put 
off chasuble and stole, and with his assistants followed 
the brethren who had gone before to work^. St. Ber- 
nard put off the finishing of one of his wonderful 
sermons on the Canticles, because the brethren must 
go to the work which their rule and their poverty 
required ^ It was a peculiarity of the Cistercians, that 
they did not sing psalms, but meditated while they 
worked ; again, no one was allowed to take a book with 
him into the fields. This last regulation was probably 
made by Stephen himself, for it is recorded of St. 
Alberic that he took the psalter with him when he 
worked. Field-work was not, however, it may be said 
by the way, the only labour of the Cistercian ; he took 
his turn to be cook, which ofiice went the round of the 
convent, and was changed weekly. Again, he might 
be cellarer, infirmarian, master of the novices, or porter, 

^ Vid. Adam, abbot of a Cistercian monastery, quoted by Calmet 
on c. 58 of the Rule. * Us. Cist. 84. ^ Serm. i. 


with a variety of other offices, which would give him 
employment enough. The cellarer, especially, was an 
officer of considerable dignity in the community : he 
had the whole of the victualling department under his 
care ; cooks and lay-brethren especially referred to him 
in all matters which came under his jurisdiction, and he 
had to weigh out the proper quantity of food for each of 
the monks. Prudence and experience were not, there- 
fore, qualities thrown away in a convent, which, as has 
been said, was a little world in itself, and even, in its 
way, a busy world. But each servile occupation was 
hallowed by obedience and religious silence, in which 
the Lord spoke to the heart. 

The brethren left the fields as soon as the first stroke 
of the bell for tierce was heard. The early Benedic- 
tines said tierce in the fields, and continued working 
till near 10 o'clock, thus giving two hours and a half to 
manual labour. The reason why the Cistercians worked 
for a shorter time was, because mass followed immedi- 
ately upon tierce. In St. Benedict's time there was 
no daily mass ^, but since then a change had taken place 
in the discipline of the Church, and the holy sacrifice 
was offered up every day at Citeaux. At this mass 
any one might communicate who had not communicated 
on the Sunday, which was the day on which the whole 
convent received the Body and Blood of our most blessed 
Lord, who was at that time given to the faithful under 
both kinds. After the celebration of these adorable mys- 
teries, the brethren again retired into the cloister to read, 
or went into the church for meditation. At about half- 
past eleven the bell rang for sext, after which the convent 
assembled in the refectory, for the first and principal 

2 Martenne, de Ant. Mon. Rit. 2 — 4. 


meal of the day, except on the Wednesdays and Fridays 
out of the Paschal time, on which days, as has been 
said before, they had only one meal, and that after 
nones. The Cistercian dinner, or breakfast, as it 
might be called, needed the seasoning of early rising 
and hard labour to make it palatable. It consisted of a 
pound of the coarsest bread (one-third of which was 
reserved for supper if there was one), and two dishes of 
different sorts of vegetables boiled without grease. 
Their drink was the sour wine of the country, well 
diluted with water, or else thin beer^ or a decoction of 
herbs called sapa^, which seems to have been more like 
vegetable soup than any other beverage. Even fish 
and eggs, which had always been considered to be 
legitimate diet for monks, were excluded. Their con- 
temporaries wondered at their austerity ; how, weak and 
delicate bodies, worn out by hard labour and by night- 
watching, could possibly subsist on such coarse food : 
but St. Bernard tells us what made it palatable. " Thou 
fearest watchings, fasts, and manual labour," he says to a 
runaway Cistercian, "but these are light to one who 
thinks on the eternal fire. The remembrance of the 
outer-darkness takes away all horror from solitude. 
Think on the strict sifting of thine idle words which is 
to come, and then silence will not be so very unpleasing. 
Place before thine eyes the everlasting weeping and 
gnashing of teeth, and the mat or the down pillow will 
be the same to thee." And yet theirs was not a service 
of gloom or fear. Christ rewarded the holy boldness of 
these noble athletes, who thus afilicted their, bodies for 
His sake, by filling their souls with the joys of devotion. 

* Sicera is mentioned, Us. Cis. 117. 

* Sapa occurs Vit. St. Bern. 2 — 1. 


" Oh ! that by God's mercy," says St. Bernard to one 
whom he was persuading to quit the world, "I could have 
thee as my fellow in that school where Jesus is the 
master ! Oh ! that I could place thy bosom, if it were 
but once pure, in the place where it might be a vase to 
catch that unction which teacheth us of all things — 
Thinkest thou not that thou wouldest suck honey from the^ 
rock, and oil from the rugged stone V Every action was 
sanctified to the monks, even at their meals a strict 
silence was observed, and one of the brethren read aloud 
some religious book, during the time that they were in 
the refectory. After it was over, according to the 
custom' of hot climates, and in order to make up for the 
shortness of the night in summer, they went into the 
dormitory to sleep. After about an hour's rest the bell 
rang to rouse them up, and in the interval between 
nones, they washed themselves, and either sat in the 
cloister or repaired to the church. Nones were said at 
half-past two, after which they were allowed a draught 
of water in the refectory before they returned to manual 
labour, which lasted till half-past five, when they sang 
vespers^. Tjie vesper-hour was especially the monk's 
season of quiet, when the day was over with all its 
work, and the shades of evening were closing about 
him. St. Bernard interprets the evening in Scripture 
to mean the time of quiet 7, and Cistercian writers, even 
in late times, are fond of collecting together all the 
mystical import of the time of vespers^. They went 
into the refectory after returning from their work, and 
partook of a slight repast, consisting of the remainder 
of their pound of bread, with a few raw fruits, such as 

6 Calmet, c. 48. ^ i^ Cant. Serm. 57, 

8 Bona de Div. Psal. 10. 


radishes, lettuces, or apples furnished by the abbey 

Before we close the day with compline, it will be 
necessary to mark the difference between the summer 
and winter rule. Their seasons followed the eccle- 
siastical division of the year ; summer was reckoned 
from Easter to the middle of September, and the rest of 
the year was called winter. The Church in winter sits in 
expectation of her Lord's coming, and the Cistercians 
redoubled their austerities during this long period of the 
gloom of the year. They arose in all the cold and snow 
of winter, in the dark and dreary night, to watch for 
the coming of the Lord, and to pray for the world 
which was lying without in the darkness and shadow of 
death. As the world is engaged in turning day into 
night, in order to have its fill of pleasure, so they 
multiplied time for devotion, by stealing from the hours 
when men are asleep. On Christmas night a fire 
burned merrily in the calefactory, and all with glad 
hearts might cluster around it ; but at other times no 
fire is mentioned during the night hours, and it was in 
cold and hunger that they waited for the nativity of 
the Lord, and thought upon the cold cave at Bethlehem, 
where the Blessed Virgin waited for the time when He, 
who is the only joy of the faithful, came forth from her 
to save the world. He was the centre of all their 
exercises, and His holy fire burning in their hearts, gave 
them heat and light in the dreariness of their watching. 
Winter brought its compensation with it at Citeaux, 
as well as to the rest of the world. It was then that 
they had most time for meditation and prayer in the 
cloister, or in the church after matins j for lauds were 
never said till the early dawn, which would of course 
be then much later than in summer. Prime followed 


immediately upon lauds, and would generally begin 
about seven o'clock. Then came the mass, tierce, and 
the chapter, so that they did not begin to work till 
after the time prescribed by St. Benedict, which was 
after tierce, or about half-past nine or ten. The 
chapter is not here noticed, nor indeed is it mentioned 
systematically anywhere in his rule ; it probably be- 
came a system, and the hour for it was fixed, after 
St. Benedict's time 9. From the time that they went 
into the fields after the chapter, till nones, which were 
said between two and three, they worked on without 
breaking their fast till after the hour was said, that 
is between half-past two and three i. After the meal 
was over, they walked into the church two and two, 
chaunting the Miserere, and there said grace. Vespers 
followed soon after; for it seems probable that they 
were said about sunset, but before the twilight had so 
far faded away as to require candles. Such is Cardinal 
Bona's opinion, himself a Cistercian, and the lighting 
of lamps for vespers is not mentioned among the du- 
ties of the servant of the church, as he was called-. 
In summer, when a slight repast was allowed in the 
evening, the quiet of the twilight hour was necessarily 
interrupted ; but in winter, when nothing was per- 
mitted after their one meal, but a draught of water, 
nothing broke the repose of the monks after vespers 
were said. The most breathless stillness reigned in the 
convent. The brethren sat reading in the clois- 
ter, and even signs were forbidden except on specj^l 
occasions 3. The evening twilight between vespers and| 
compline was the monks' sabbath. They were forbid-| 

9 Reg. St. Ben. 46. » Calmet, c. 41. 

2 Bona de Div. Psal. 10. Us. Cist. 105. ^ Ug^ qi^^^ 79^ 


den expressly to get into knots and talk together, and 
almost the only sign allowed was when one brother 
motioned to another to take care of his book, if any- 
thing called him out of the cloister. Strange accidents 
happened to books in those ages, which might have 
made this precaution necessary, as when a bear swal- 
lowed or at least sadly mangled the manuscript of St. 
Augustine's Epistles at Cluny*; though it is true such 
visitors would hardly enter a cloister full of monks. 
During Lent, as their bodily labours were greater, so 
a longer time was allowed them for meditation and 
reading. As they did not break their fast till about 
five o'clock in the evening 5, they said sext and nones 
in the fields, or at least they returned to their work 
as soon as they had said them, and continued working 
till four o'clock^. But a longer time was allowed for 
reading in the morning, and additional mental prayer 
is especially enjoined at this season 7. The only reading 
allowed seems to have been the Holy Scriptures ; and 
on the first Sunday in Lent, the cantor distributed a 
portion of the bible to each brother, which he was 
to receive reverently, and stretching out both hands 
" for joy at the Holy Scriptures." No greater proof 
of their austere penitence in the time of Lent can be 
found, than the way in which St. Bernard speaks of it. 
Sweetly, and with the tenderness of a mother, does he 
always speak to the brethren at that time. " Not with- 
out a great touch of pity, brethren," he once said, " do 
I look upon you. I cast about for some alleviation to 
give you, and bodily alleviation comes before my mind ; 
but if your penance be lightened by a cruel pity, then is 

4 Pet. Ven. Ep. 1. 24. « Calmet, c. 48. 

^ " Usque ad deciraam horam," St. Ben. Reg. 48. 
7 Us. Cist. 15. 


your crown by degrees stripped of its gems. What can 
I do ? Ye are killed all day long with many fasts, in 
labours oft, in watchings over much, besides your in- 
ward trials, the contrition of heart, and a multitude of 
temptations. Yea, ye are killed ; but it is for His sake 
who died for you. But if your tribulation abounds for 
Him, your consolation shall abound through Him. For 
is it not certain, that your sufferings are above human 
strength, beyond nature, against habit ? Another then 
doth bear them for you, even He doubtless, who, as saith 
the Apostle, beareth up all things by the word of His 

power ^." 

Two things alone remain to be noticed, which through- \ 
out the whole year were the last events of a Cistercian 
day, and those are the collation or the reading of the 
collations of Cassian, and compline. At Citeaux these : 
collations, which were a collection of the lives of the early i 
monks, or else some of the books of saints' lives, was read ^ 
aloud in the cloister. On the finishing of the reading, I 
all turned their faces to the east, and the abbot said, 
" Our help is in the name of the Lord ;" the convent re- 
sponded, " Who hath made heaven and earth ;" and then 
they proceeded into the church to sing compline, which 
was the last office of the day. The time for compline 
varied according to the hour when they retired to rest, 
which in winter would be about seven, and in summer 
about eight 9. As their motions were regulated according 
to the duration of the light, an approximation only can 
be made as to their hours of going to bed and rising. 
After compline the abbot rose and sprinkled with holy 
water each brother as they went out in order. They 
then pulled their cowls over their heads and walked into 

^ Serin, in Psalm, xc. Preface. ^ Calmet, c. 8. 


the dormitory. Such was the Cistercian life in its first 
fervour, as it was under Stephen and St. Bernard. Put 
down upon paper it appears but a dead letter of out- 
ward observances ; the spirit of obedience, humility, and 
charity which animated the whole cannot be described 
in words. The angelical countenances and noiseless re- 
gulated motions of the monks, which had a certain 
monastic grace of their own, are all missing to light up 
the whole. The presence again of such an abbot as 
Stephen must be taken into account, before a correct 
idea can be obtained of Citeaux. He could modify the 
rule to the weak, and direct the energies of the strong ; 
he could call the faint-hearted into his presence in the 
parlour, and give them words of holy counsel. Many 
things are scattered up and down St. Bernard's writings, 
which show that a rule without the living tradition is 
not fully intelligible. For instance, from scattered hints 
it appears, that the monks had sometimes a certain time 
allowed them for conversing together, though that is not 
mentioned at all in St. Benedict's rule. The fact is, 
that silence was the general order of the day, but the 
abbot might allow those whom he judged fit to converse 
together i. In after ages, and not so long after Stephen's 
time, these conversations were systematized, and placed 
at set hours ; but before then they seem to have been at 
the discretion of the abbot. How naked and dead are 
the words of a rule without the living abbot to dispense 
them, to couple together the strong and the weak, that 

* V. Calmet, c. 6. St. Bern. Serm. de diversis, 17, and Benedictine 
note ; also de Grad. Superbiae, 13. Also Speculum Monachoram, 
in the Benedictine St. Bernard, written by Arnulfus, a monk of 
Boheries, who flourished in the latter part of the twelfth century. 
The master of the novices held frequent conversations with them, 
vid. Adam of Perseigne, in Baluzius Misc. vol. ii. 236. 


the sturdy warrior might help on the trembling soldier, 
and to mingle the roughness of discipline with the ten- 
der hand which dropped oil and wine on the wounded 
heart. Stephen, though God had removed the pains 
which had so long afflicted him, had now an anxious . 
charge upon his hands, no less than the training up of 
St. Bernard. 




The poor house of Citeaux was now, as we have seen, 
perfect : it had not only a strict rule, and a ruler to teach 
it, but it had also novices to whom it was to be taught. 
It had now become too small for its inmates, and the 
despised convent, which but lately was looked upon with 
fear rather than admiration, had now the choice of all 
the fair fields of France, and by and by of Europe, at 
its command. Many were the children of her that 
was called barren, and every year, band after band of 
monks were sent out from the now teeming house to 
form new monasteries, and these again increased and 
multiplied, till every kingdom of Europe was filled with 
the daughters of Citeaux. Soon after the arrival of 
St. Bernard and his companions at the convent, Stephen 
was summoned away from home for the purpose of 
founding the new monastery of La Ferte in the diocese 
of Chalons. Walter, bishop of Chalons, and two noble- 
men of the country, on hearing that Citeaux was too 
full, had immediately looked out for a place where they 
might house the new colony, and proposed to Stephen to 
found a convent on their ground. He gladly accepted 
the offer, and himself accompanied the brethren whom 
he destined for this service to their new abode. In a 
few days he returned to his abbey of Citeaux. The 
charge which God had intrusted to him, was the more 
anxious, because St. Bernard's state of health was ex- 
ceedingly precarious. The thinness of his slightly-built 


frame ^ "showed in what a frail earthen vessel that precious 
soul was contained. His neck especially was very long 
and delicate, so that when he threw back his cowl, none 
could help remarking it, and the monks praised its snowy 
whiteness and its elegance, like that of a swan 2. His 
life was even endangered by the narrowness of his throat ; 
but his most troublesome infirmity was the weakness of 
his stomach, which rejected a great portion of the food 
which he had swallowed. With all these ailments he 
had entered the strictest order of the day, and now that 
he had thus put his hand to the plough, he was deter- 
mined not to look back. He had entered the abbey of 
Citeaux in order to bury himself from the world, to 
become a poor man and a rustic, not simply to hide 
under a white cucuUa an ambitious heart, nor even to 
give himself time to exercise a fine imagination on holy 
subjects. Every day therefore he used to excite him- 
self forward, by repeating to himself, " Bernard, Bernard, 
wherefore art thou hereT' He earnestly set himself to 
work on the rough occupations in which the Cistercians 
passed their day. His attenuated frame was bent down 
with the rude labours of the field, and his delicate skin 
worn with holding the spade and the hoe. Nor did 
he work listlessly like a man who takes up a fork and 
makes hay on a fine sunshiny day, but he laboured with a 
will in downright earnestness, as if it had been the 
business of' his life. His weak body often sunk under 
these labours ; and often the awkwardness of his hands, 
which were used to far other work than digging and 
mowing, and such like toils, obliged his superiors to 
separate him from his brethren at the hours of manual 

^ " Corpus tenuissimum, statura mediocritatis honestse, longitudini 
tamen vicinior apparebat." Gauffridi Vita, c. 1. 
2 Exord. Mag. 7. 17. 


labour. He was, however, never happy on those occa- 
sions, and if he could not work with the convent, he imme- 
diately began cutting wood or carrying burdens on his 
shoulders -K Stephen seems to have been especially careful 
of him in this respect ; during the harvest he had made 
many attempts at reaping, but was too weak and too little 
accustomed to such work to succeed ; he was therefore or- 
dered to lie by, and sit by himself, while, as says William 
of St. Thierry, the brethren were reaping with fervour and 
joy in the Holy Ghost. This was a sore trouble to him, 
and in the simplicity of his heart he began to weep ; he 
then prayed to God to give him grace, so that he might 
be able to join his brethren in their labours. From that 
day forward he became a most expert reaper, and the 
same William, his personal friend, asserts, that even up 
to the period when he was writing his account, St. Ber- 
nard was wont to say with self-gratulation, and a sort of 
joyous triumph, that he was the best reaper of them all. 
This hard work, to which he subjected himself in order to 
carry out his rule, was the more remarkable in him, not 
only because of his extreme weakness, but from the ex- 
ceeding austerity with which he lived. His very existence 
was a miracle, for he hardly seemed to eat, drink, or 
sleep, and his friends wondered how he could live. In 
after times he himself severely taxed his own austerity, 
which according to his own account had made him useless 
to the church. It is not on record that Stephen checked 
him in his mortification of the flesh ; he probably looked 
upon his youthful novice with a saintly wonder, as one 
whom God's Holy Spirit was leading according to His 
own blessed will, and with whom he must not interfere. 
Indeed so much had this severe way of life become the 

3 Guil. Vit. 1. 4. 


habit of both body and soul, that he hardly could have 
increased his diet if he would 1 St. Bernard is indeed 
one who cannot be judged by ordinary rules. God has 
set His seal upon His saint, by the wonderful things which 
He wrought through him, and none must rudely venture 
to blame his actions. He, in his white Cistercian dress, was 
raised up, for the needs of the Church, just as was John 
the Baptist in his garment of camel's hair ; and when he 
'came forth from his monastery, and the world streamed 
forth to view him, and kiss the hem of his poor monkish 
habit, it was then seen that his. weak frame, with the 
spirit of love and supernatural energy shining through 
it, and the flaming words of divine eloquence bursting 
from his lips, could serve God and His church to good 
purpose indeed. But this is not the place to speak of 
him as the companion of kings, the setter up of popes, 
and the real governor of the Church ; it is only as a Cis- 
tercian monk that he appears here, and in this capacity 
his wonderful way of life was not thrown away. It 
subdued his body to his spirit to such a degree, that he 
seemed to live the life of an angel upon earth. His soul 
was wrapped up in a ceaseless contemplation of God, 
and he realized the crucifixion of the flesh of which 
St. Paul speaks, and all things which belong to the 
Spirit grew and flourished in him. His senses, from the 
abstraction of his soul, seemed to be dead within him. 
He did not know whether the ceiling of the novices' 
cell was arched or flat, though he passed there every 
day of his life. Again, the choir of the church of Citeaux 
had three windows, but to the last he fancied it had 
only one. So little conscious was he of the sense of 
taste, that he more than once drank oil instead of water, 

4 Guil. i. 4. . 


without perceiving it. It was this deadness to earth, 
which made him see so far into heavenly things as he 
did. Earnest as he was in working at the lowest manual 
labour, this habit of praying always never forsook him. 
It was this habit, which he acquired at Citeaux under 
Stephen's discipline, which was the source of all his 
power. The Holy Spirit filled him with rapturous 
joys which only crucified souls can know ; and this 
unction which anointed him from above, he poured back 
upon the Church, and thus enabled her to resist the dry 
and cold rationalistic heresies which then threatened to 
overwhelm her with the maxims of worldly science. 
It was this education, too, in the cloister of Citeaux, 
before the morning light, and at the feet of Stephen in 
the auditorium, which made him the great founder of the 
science of the interior life of the Christian. He has been 
called the last of the Fathers, and he thus stands on the 
confines of the system of the early Church, which con- 
templated God as He is in Himself, and that of the later 
ages, in which the mysterious dealings of Grod with the 
soul of the individual Christian were minutely analyzed. 
It is not to be supposed that he was so abstracted from 
the world, as to be either singular in his demeanour or 
dead to earthly affection. He cast off a hair shirt which 
he had constantly worn next to his skin, lest in a monas- 
tery where all things were done in common it should be 
observed. Though his habit was of coarse and poor 
materials, yet it was always scrupulously clean. He 
used to say that dirt was the mark of a careless mind, 
or of one that cherished a fond idea of its own virtue, or 
loved the silly praise of men. His motions were ever 
regulated, and bore humility on the face of them, and 
a sweet fragrance of piety was shed around his person 
and his actions, so that all looked upon his countenance 


with joy^. His voice was singularly clear, notwith- 
standing the weakness of his body, and in after times, its 
very tones won even those who did not understand the 
language which he spoke. In conversation, the spirit of 
charity shone through all his words; and he always 
spoke of what most interested his companion, making 
inquiries about his trade or profession, as if he had espe- 
cially studied it all his life. Stephen did not prevent 
his seeing and conversing with his relations when they 
came to Citeaux ; and on these occasions his courtesy 
was such, that his exceedingly tender conscience would 
sometimes prick him as though he had spoken idle words. 
On one occasion, he devised a strange expedient ; when 
summoned to see some of his friends, who had come to 
visit him, he stopped his ears with tow, so that his deaf- 
ness might give him an air of stupidity. Loud laughter 
in a monk was an object of his special aversion, and he 
has recorded it in one place of his writings, by a graphic 
picture of the light-minded monk laughing to himself. 
He describes him covering his face with his hands, com- 
pressing his lips, clenching his teeth, and laughing as 
though he would not laugh, till at length the suppressed 
mirth burst out through his nostrils^. With all this hatred 
of levity which thus appears in the almost ludicrous 
vividness of his description, he would on occasion even 
force himself to smile. Another characteristic of Ber- 
nard's soul, was the wonderful strength of his affections. 
Though he had torn himself thus rudely from all earthly 
affections, yet the wounds which he had suffered in the 
conflict did not close over a hardened heart, but he 
carried them with him all bleeding to the cloister. Even 
long after his novitiate was over, nay, to his last day, the 

^ Gauf. 2. 6 De Qj-^a. Hum. et Sup. 12. 


tenderness of this maternal heart cost him many a pang ; 
chiefly if any one of his brethren went wrong, he 
mourned over him with a passionate grief, with which he 
in vain struggled, as though it were an imperfection. On 
occasion of his brother Gerard's death, he endeavoured 
to preach one of his sermons on the Canticles without 
alluding to it, but it was too much for him : in the midst 
of the sermon, his grief bursts forth, and down fall the 
bitter tears which he had pent up so long, and he breaks 
out into expressions of the most vehement and impas- 
sioned sorrow. He kept to the very last the most vivid 
recollection of his mother ; he carried it with him into 
Citeaux, and every day before he went to bed, he recited 
the seven penitential psalms for the repose of her soul. 
This practice is connected with the only time on record 
when Stephen reproved his illustrious disciple. One 
night he went to bed without having repeated his psalms : 
in some way it came to Stephen's knowledge that it was 
his practice thus to pray for his mother, and that night 
he knew that his novice had left that duty unfulfilled. 
It may be that God revealed to him the whole matter, 
or else by the strange spiritual instinct which those 
intimately connected with others possess, he read in his 
face that something had been left undone overnight. 
Mothers possess this instinct, and why should not the 
abbot, who watched over his young disciple with a 
mother's love ? However it came into his mind, at all 
events he did know it, and that in some uncommon way. 
Next morning he called Bernard to him, and said. 
Brother Bernard, where, I pray you, hast thou dropped 
those psalms of thine yesterday, and to whose good 
keeping hast thou committed them? Bernard, being 
shy, as says the history, blushed, and marvelled much 
within himself how the abbot knew that of which he 


alone possessed the secret. He perceived that he stood 
in the presence of a spiritual man, and fell at Stephen's 
feet, begging pardon for his negligence, which, as we may- 
suppose, he was not long in obtaining. Such is one of 
the few specimens of Stephen's way of guiding his novice, 
which time has spared. The other circumstances of the 
intercourse between these two elect souls are known 
only to God and His angels. Historians mention but 
slightly even the solemn ceremony by which St. Bernard 
knelt at the feet of Stephen to take his vows on quitting 
the novitiate, the year after his entering the convent. 
This was the culminating point of the abbot's life ; his 
great work was the training of St. Bernard ; hence- 
forth the materials for his history become scanty, for 
he appears only the administrator of his order, the 
history of which is merged in St. Bernard. He had 
passed the great trials of his life, and he now lived in 
comparative peace, founding new abbeys every year, 
and quietly watching the growth of the mighty tree 
into which his grain of mustard seed had grown. 
Doubtless he who had so often tried to hide his head 
in the depths of a forest, did not now regret that his 
light had waned before his illustrious disciple. And 
let no one suppose that he is doing nothing, because his 
name occurs but seldom ; every new monastery founded 
year by year is his work, and he is gradually becoming 
the head of a vast federacy of which he is the legislator, 
as well as abbot of his own convent of Citeaux. While 
St. Bernard is astonishing the world by his supernatural 
power over the minds of men, every now and then, from 
Citeaux, the central point in which these vast rays of 
glory converge, some new act of monastic policy issues, 
which is owing to its abbot. 





Meanwhile, the Cistercian order was silently growing 
up about him; in 1114, Hugh, once lord of Macon, 
St. Bernard's friend, was sent to Pontigny with a colony 
of monks from Citeaux ; in 1115, Morimond and Clair- 
vaux were founded. And who was to be abbot of 
Clairvaux ? Surely some brother of mature age, and 
of tough sinews, and hardy frame, for the other three 
abbeys were founded by special invitation of some 
bishop, nobleman, or other holy person, but the colony 
which peopled Clairvaux set out like knight-errants on 
an adventure, not knowing whither they went. Yet to 
the surprise of all, Stephen fixes on St. Bernard, though 
he was hardly out of his novitiate, and was just twenty- 
five years of age ; and though his weak frame was but 
ill able to bear the exercises of Citeaux, far less appa- 
rently to set out on a voyage of discovery, to find out 
the most lonely forest, vale, or mountain-side, that the 
diocese of Langres could produce. Twelve monks were 
sent with this youthful abbot, to represent the twelve 
Apostles ; he himself was to be to them in the place of 
Christ. The usual form with which such an expedition 
set out was characteristic. Stephen delivered to him 
who was to be the new abbot a crucifix in the Church 
of Citeaux, and then in perfect silence he set out, his 
twelve monks following him through the cloister. The 


abbey gates opened and closed upon them, and the 
great world which they had not seen for many a day 
lay before them. Forward they went, over hill and 
down dale, St. Bernard going first with the holy rood, 
and the twelve following, till they came to a deep glen 
between two mountains, whose sides were clothed with a 
forest of oaks, beeches, and limes ; between them flowed 
the clear waters of the river Aube. The place was 
called, for some unknown reason, the Valley of Worm- 
wood, and had been the haunt of robbers. In St. Ber- 
nard's hands it became Clairvaux, or the* Vale of Glory. 
Here, then, with the assistance of the peasants round 
they established themselves, and Stephen soon had the 
consolation to hear, that the daughter of Citeaux was 
rivalling her mother. These first four abbeys founded 
by him, La Ferte, Pontigny, Clairvaux, and Morimond, 
were the heads of what were afterwards called the four 
filiations of Citeaux ; from each of them sprang a whole 
line of monasteries. Stephen foresaw that this would 
be the case ; in fact it could not be otherwise j the only 
thing which in those ages of faith was required to found 
a monastery was men, and those he had with him already. 
There was no need of money, or of leave from king, 
privy council, or parliament. All that was wanted was 
an old wood or a wild waste, which the owner, if there 
was one, would be glad enough to give up to any one 
who chose to expel the wild beasts, and break it up for 
tillage. The spiritual children of Citeaux were there- 
fore sure to increase, now that four flourishing abbeys 
had already sprung from it. The question, however, 
was, how these were to be bound to the parent monas- 
tery. In after ages, as soon as the first generation had 
past away, they would become simply Benedictines, 
with a white habit, and there was no guarantee what- 


ever that they would keep to the peculiar institutions of 
Citeaux. Stephen's first step to remedy this evil was 
the institution of the general chapter ; every year all the 
abbots of monasteries descended from Citeaux were to 
meet there on Holy Cross day, to confer on the afiairs 
of the order ; and their first meeting took place in the 
year 1116. Though only four abbots were present at 
this assembly, it is an important event in the history, 
not only of the Cistercian, but of every other order. In 
the institution of the general chapter, Stephen had de- 
vised an expedient, which went far to remedy the great 
defect of the early monasteries — the want of a proper 
jurisdiction. His idea was as yet imperfectly de- 
veloped ; it was but the first germ of the government 
which was to bind the Cistercian order together : but 
it was a hint by which all Christendom profited ; for 
so beneficially was it found to work, that Cluniacs, Do- 
minicans, Franciscans, and the various congregations of 
the Benedictine order, adopted it. Innocent III. seems 
to have been struck with the profound wisdom of 
Stephen's plan, for in the celebrated fourth Lateran 
council, where he presided, it was the system brought 
in to revive the monastic discipline, which in many 
places had been ruined ; and the general chapters of 
Citeaux are expressly taken as a model. 

This assembly at Citeaux was remarkable also in 
another respect ; it has been said that only four abbots 
were present at it. Where then was my lord of Clair- 
vaux ? Alas ! it is not hard to know what has become 
of him. In the midst of the holy conference, an unex- 
pected visitor comes into the chapter-house in the dress 
of a bishop. The abbots ought to have risen to beg 
the blessing of this prince of the Church, thus suddenly 
appearing among them. Instead of this, he prostrated 


himself on the ground in the presence of Stephen and 
his brethren. This was no other than the celebrated 
William of Champeaux, once the great doctor of the 
schools^ now bishop of Chalons; in that lowly posture 
he informed the abbot of Citeaux that Bernard was 
hard at death's door, and would certainly die if he were 
allowed to continue administering the affairs of his 
abbey. On his knees, therefore, the venerable Bishop 
begged of Stephen to transfer his authority over St. 
Bernard to himself for the space of a year. The abbot 
of course willingly acceded to his request, backed as it 
was by the humble guise of William ; and St. Bernard 
was accordingly, by virtue of his vow of obedience, 
compelled to give himself up entirely into his hands. 
For the space of a year, therefore, he was removed to a 
habitation built for him outside the walls of Clairvaux, 
and was put under the hands of a physician, whom he 
was ordered implicitly to obey. 

Stephen began about this time to enter into relation 
with another illustrious personage, whose friendship 
was afterwards of great use to the order. William of 
Champeaux was not the only bishop who came to 
Citeaux; in the year 1117 it received within its walls 
Guido, archbishop of Vienne, then apostolical legate in 
France, and afterwards destined, as Pope Calixtus II., 
to close the great struggle which Gregory YII. began. 
He had been to Dijon to celebrate a council, to which 
it is probable that Stephen himself was summoned. 
When the' council was over he repaired to Citeaux as 
Stephen's guest, and there conceived an attachment to 
the rising order, which he carried with him to the papal 
throne. However different was the lot to which Guido 
and Stephen had been called, one shut up in a cloister, 
the other a powerful archbishop, and leader of a great 


party in the Church, yet there was something not uncon- 
genial in their characters. The untiring and patient 
energy with which Stephen had struggled through his 
difficulties, and was now in fact reviving monastic dis- 
cipline throughout France, was not unlike the quiet 
firmness with which Guido was awaiting the conclusion 
of the contest between Church and State. When Pascal 
committed the unhappy fault which embarrassed the 
cause of the Church, the archbishop of Yienne, as 
legate of the Holy See, immediately excommunicated the 
emperor, and then, though he did not join in the im- 
petuous zeal of those who would have deposed the 
pope, he waited patiently, without for a moment quitting 
the position which he had taken up, till Pascal, the 
year before this visit to Citeaux, confirmed the sen- 
tence which he had pronounced. Before he left the 
abbey, he begged of Stephen to send a colony of monks 
into his own diocese of Vienne, promising to provide 
them with all that was necessary. To this request 
Stephen willingly acceded, and \yent thither in person 
to found the abbey of Bonneval. 

These few years which followed St. Bernard's en- 
trance into the abbey, are quite a specimen of the 
general tenour of Stephen's life. In 1118, the year 
that Bonneval was founded, two more abbeys were also 
peopled with Cistercian colonies, — Prouilly in the diocese 
of Sens, and La Cour-Dieu in that of Orleans. At the 
same time, two more monasteries were founded from 
Clairvaux. Nine abbeys, therefore, had sprung from 
Citeaux, in the short space of ^ye years, and it now 
became needful to provide a constitution for the rising 
order. This was effected by Stephen at the general 
chapter, in 1119 ; and the means which he took to effect 
this great object have a sagacity about them which 


shows how deeply he had studied the wants of the 
monastic body. They entitle him to rank amongst the 
most illustrious of the many founders of orders, who 
have in different ways given a new direction to the 
enthusiasm of Christians, as the needs of the Church 
required. He filled up a want which St. Benedict's 
rule did not, and indeed was not intended to supply, 
and that was the internfd arrangement of a body of 
monasteries connected with each other. St. Benedict 
legislated for a monastery, Stephen for an order. The 
idea of the great patriarch of western monks was, that 
each monastery was to be a monarchy under its abbot ; 
no abbey, as far as the' rule of St. Benedict goes, is in 
any way connected with another. In one extraordinary 
case the abbots of neighbouring monasteries may be 
called in to interfere in the election of an abboti; ]j^^ 
in general each monastery was an independent com- 
munity. This rude and imperfect system of govern- 
ment was the ruin of monastic institutions ; the jurisdic- 
tion of bishops was utterly inadequate to keep refrac- 
tory monks in order, or to preserve monastic discipline 
in its purity. So entirely had the rule of St. Benedict 
at one time disappeared from France, that itsjrery 
existence before the time of St. Odo of Cluny has been 
questioned. In some monasteries lay abbots might 
be found quietly established, with their wives and 
children ; and the tramp of soldiers, the neighing of 
horses, and baying of hounds, made the cloister more 
like a knight's castle, than a place dedicated to God's 
service. 2 A specimen of the way in which bishops were 
treated when they undertook to reform abbeys, may be 
found in the conduct of the monks of Fleury, on the 

1 Reg. c. 64. 2 MabiUon. Pref. in Saec, 5. 


Loire, when St. Odo was introduced into the abbey 
to tame them. Two bishops, and two counts, accom- 
panied the abbot, but the monks minded them, says the 
story, no more than pagans and barbarians; they fairly 
buckled on the sword, posted themselves at the gates, 
got a plentiful supply of stones and missiles on the roof, 
and declared that they would rather die than receive an 
abbot of another order within their walls. The bishops 
might have remained outside the walls for ever, had not 
the intrepid abbot mounted his ass, and quietly ridden 
alone into the abbey, to the astonishment of the monks, 
who were too much struck with his courage to oppose 
him. Two general reformatipns_of monastic institutions 
were effected before Stephen's time, and both were 
directed at the evil which we have mentioned; ^t. 
Benedict of Aniane, by his personal in%£n(>ev united all 
the abbeys of the„ Carlo vingian empire into one congre- 
gation; but after his death, they relapsed into their 
former state. The other reform was much more per- 
manent; it was effected by the celebrated congregation 
of Cluny. When monasteries were in a state of the 
lowest degradation, still there was vitality enough in 
this mass of corruption to give birth to a line of saints, 
such as that of the first abbots of Cluny. By the s ole 
power of their holiness they bound into one a vast 
numberof abbeys, all dependent upon their own. This 
great congregation appears not to have been fully syste- 
matized tij! *^^ *i^^ ^^ S** Hugh; before him, abbeys 
seem in some cases to have become again independent, 
when the abbot of Cluny died who had reformed them. 
He, however, required it as a previous condition of a 
monastery which joined itself to the congregation, that 
it should become a priory, dependent on Cluny, and 
that its superior should be appointed by himself and his 


successors.^ A noble and a stately kingdom was that of 
Clunj j 314 monasteries and churches were its subjects^; 
its lord was a temporal prince, and in spirituals subject 
to none but the Holy See ; he coined money in his own 
territory of Cluny, as the king of France in his royal 
city of Paris, and the broad pieces of the convent went 
as far as the fleurs-de-lis of the Louvre. This spiritual 
kingdom extended to Constantinople, and even to the 
Holy Land. Great indeed it was; too great for any 
man to possess, who was not as noble-minded as St. 
Hugh, and as free from selfish feelings as the graceful 
and loving soul of Peter the Venerable. At the time 
when_Stephen completed the Cistercian order, Cluny 
was in the hands of one who ruled it between the time 
of St. Hugh and Peter, Abbot Pontius, who spoilt the 
whole. He must needs be called by the proud name 
of Abbot of Abbots, and assume a haughty superiority 
over the abbot of Mount Cassino, the most ancient 
Benedictine abbey. This was the fault of the system ; 
one bad abbot ruined all; Pontius left to his successor 
a house loaded with debt, with 300 monks to support 
on revenues which were barely sufficient to maintain 
100, besides a rabble of guests and paupers, who in- 
fested the gates of the abbey. With these disorders 
before his eyes, Stephen determined on instituting a 
system of reciprocal visitation between the abbeys of 
his order. He might, as abbot of Citeaux, have consti- 
tuted himself the head of this increasing congregation ; 
but his object was not to lord it over Christ's heritage, 
but to establish between the Cistercian abbeys a lasting 
bond of love. The body of statutes which he presented 

3 Mabillon. Ssec. v. Pref. 56. 

^ Thomassin. de Nov. et Vet. Disc. 1. 368. 


to his brethren in the general chapter of 1119, was 
called the Chart of Charity. In its j)ro visions, the whole 
order is looked upon as . one family, united by ties of 
blood; Citeaux is the_ common ancestor of the whole, 
and the four first abbeys. founded from it, La Ferte, 
Pontigny, Clairvaux, and Morimond, as its four eldest 
daughters, respectively governed the abbeys sprung 
from them. The abbot of Citeaux was called Pater 
universalis prdinis ; he visited any monastery that he 
pleased, and w^^h^reverjbie went Jhe abbot gave up. his 
place to him. On t he ot her hand, the abbots of the 
four filiations, as tliey were termed, visited Citeaux, be- 
sides which each abbot went every year to inspect the 
abbeys which had sprung from his own. Every year 
a general chapter was held at Citeaux, which all the 
abbots in the order, without exception, were obliged to 
attend under heavy penalties. The chief abbot of each 
filiation could, with the advice of other abbots, depose 
any one of his subordinate abbots, who after admonition 
continued to violate the rule ; and even_the head of 
the whole order might be deposed by the four abbots, 
though not without a general chapter, or in case^ of 
urgent necessity, in an assembly of abbots of the filia- 
tion of Citeaux. Each abbey was to receive with joy 
any of the brethren of other Cistercian abbeys, and to 
treat him as though he were at home. Thus the most 
perfect union was to be preserved amongst the whole 
body ; and if^ny discord arose in the general chapter, 
the abbot_of Ciieaux might, with the help of pther 
abbots, called in by himself, settle the question in dis- 
pute. This is but a faint outline of the famous Chart 
of Charity, which was copied by many other orders, 
and in part even by that of Cluny. This ri^iAjJS^^^ 
of mutual visitation might seem to have precluded the 


visitation of the bisliop, and so in^ct the order became 
in time exempt from episcopaJ^ju^erJjat^den^^ but 
Stephen by no means intended that such should be the 
case. Exemptions fr om the jurisdiction of the_ Vicar of 
Christ, as St. Bernard calls the bishop of the diocese^, 
formed ^ne_of the special grievances against which the 
early Cistercian writers most loudly declaim. It was a 
portion of the ambition of abbots of the day, and was 
therefore classed by them with the assumption of the 
pontifical mitre and sandals, which was such^a^candal 
in Cistercian eyes. Exemptions , however, which were 
not gained at the suit of the abbot, but conceded by,, 
the Holy See to the piety of founders of monasteries, 
are excepted from the censure of St. Bernard ; and, 
notwithstanding Stephen's submission to diocesan au- 
thority, he took care to secure his order against the 
influence of secular bishops. Even from the time of 
Hugh, the second abbot elected by Stephen^ the words, 
" salvo ordine nostro," were added to the oath of canoni- 
cal obedience, taken by every abbot on receiving the be- 
ijediction from the bishop. Another important step was 
taken by him to secure his order, and its new constitu- 
tion, from undue interference. He determined to apply 
to the Apostolic See for a confirmation (^^^ Charta 

Charitatis; without this sanction it was a mere private 
compact^ between^j^i^ then ruling Cistercian abbots, but 
with thejgapal^sanctipn^ it became in some way a law of 
the Church. Stephen was not obliged to send all the 
way to Eome to obtain this confirmation from the pope ; 
great things had been doing in Christendom all this 
while that Citeaux had been flourishing. Pascal II. 
had died, and, after one short j;earjj Gelasius too had 

« De Off. Episc. 9. 


died, not_at ^Bome in bis own palace, but an exile at 
Cluny. Into tbat year were crowded troubles, as great 
as bad ever befallen tbe successor of St. Peter since 
tbe days of martyrdom. A troubled life, indeed, bad 
been tbe life of Gelasius, ever since be bad left bis 
peaceful studies at Mount Cassino, and been made 
Cbancellor of Rome, to amend tbe latinity of tbe papal 
court, wbere, as says Pandulf, "tbe ancient style of 
elegance and grace was almost lost^." Rougber tasks 
be found tban tbis, for be sbared in all tbe troubles of 
tbe popes during tbat long struggle, and at last be bim- 
self from Cardinal Jobn Cajetan was made Pope Gela- 
sius II. In tbe very ceremony of bis entbronement, 
be was tbrown from bis seat by tbe emperor's party, 
dragged by tbe bair out of tbe Cburcb, and at its very 
door stamped upon, so tbat tbe rowels of tbe spurs of 
bis persecutors were stained witb bis blood. Tben be 
fled from Rome by water, amidst a tempest of tbunder 
and wind, and wbat was worse, amidst tbe curses of tbe 
Germans, wbo stood on tbe sbore ready to seize bim if 
tbey could; and so tbey would, if it bad not been for 
tbe fearful nigbt, and for Cardinal Hugo, wbo, wben 
tbey landed, carried tbe boly fatber on bis back to a 
safe castle. In exile be remained tbe rest of bis life, 
witb but one sbort interval, wben be ventured to return 
to Rome, and again tbe impious nobles rose, and swords 
were drawn about bim, till at last be said, " Let us fly 
tbis city, tbis Sodom, tbis new Babylon !" and all cried, 
" Amen ! " and so be left Rome for ever, and came to 
France, tbe general refuge of popes in tbose dreadful 
times. His successor was cbosen in France, and tbis 
was no otber tban Guido, arcbbisbop of Vienne of tbe 

^ Muratori, Scrip, iii. part i. p. 378. 


noble house of Burgundj;, and the, firiend of Stephen 
and of Citeaux, who now was called Pope Calixtus II. 
He it was to whom God gave grace to finish the struggle 
between the Church and the emperor, and to receive 
the submission of Henry V. But this was not to be 
till afterwards. During the year when the Chart of 
Charity was framed, which was also the first of his 
ruling the^Iairch„ofX[brist^ he remainedJ.n_Fmnce^ and 
held a council ^t Rheims, where he excommunicated 
the emperor. In December Stephen's messenger found 
him at Sedelocum, a place supposed to be Saulieu, in 
Auvergne, and with the consent of the bishops of the 
dioceses in which the Cistercian abbeys were situated, 
he fully confirmed all the measures which Stephen had, 
with the consent of his brethren, determined upon for 
the preservation of peace in his order. The Chart of 
Charity was not a dead letter ; if the Spirit of Grod had 
not been in that house, it would have been but so much 
parchment. But that blessed Spirit was there in efiect ; 
else how could so many men of different age, temper, 
rank of life, and country, have lived together in peace ? 
It is easy at times to make great sacrifices ; but it is 
hard to keep up the intercourse of every day life with- 
out jars and rents, and still harder, while the body 
is suffering from fatigue and mortification, to preserve 
the graceful and noiseless considerateness, which attends 
without effort to a brother's little wants. The very 
chapter where- the Chart was passed presents an instance 
of the sort. It appears, that on occasion of the general 
chapter, to mark the joy of Citeaux at the presence of 
its sons, the stranger abbots were regaled with a pittance, 
or addition to their frugal meal. But the fathers saw, 
that in consequence of this additional mess, every thing 
went wrong in the abbey ; the poor cooks were put out 



by the unwonted feast, and then when all was over, the 
dishes had to be washed, and the servants had to get 
their dinner, and so vespers were late 7, and the poor 
monks robbed of a portion of their scanty sleep. The 
abbots were unwilling that their arrival should give so 
much trouble, and they begged of Stephen that the pit- 
tance should no more be given ; and he, with the consent 
of the brethren, acceded to their request. 

7 Us. Cist. 108. 77. 





The administration of his order was quite enough to 
occupy Stephen's time ; year after year new abbeys 
were founded, and Cistercian monasteries rose up on 
all sides to the astonishment of the world. He had 
often to undertake long journeys for the foundation of 
some new community ; and besides these toils, the 
actual government of such a large body of men required 
no ordinary attention. It is not to be supposed that 
there were no dangers in the way of monks, or that 
signal falls, even in his most promising disciples, did not 
. at times happen to grieve his heart. For instance, in 
the year 1 125, Arnold, whom he had made abbot of 
Morimond, one of the four governing abbeys of the 
order, suddenly grew disgusted with his charge, and 
while Stephen was absent in Flanders, suddenly left the 
cloister, carrying away with him several of the brethren. 
His pretence was a pilgrimage ; but he never returned 
to his abbey, and died soon after at Cologne, a runaway 
monk. While, however, Stephen was thus busied in 
managing his own abbeys, a reform was silently going on 
in another, and a most important quarter, from the mere 
increasing weight of the Cistercian order. It might 
have been supposed that the Cistercian, occupied in 
digging the soil, in draining marshes, and reducing waste 
lands into cultivation, would certainly be a great comfort 


to the poor amongst whom he laboured, and whose life 
he imitated ; but it could hardly be expected that 
their influence could reach higher ; and yet so it was. 
The bishop's palace and the king's court, unhappily at 
this time too much allied, both began to feel the in- 
fluence of the bold stand in favour of Christian poverty 
which Stephen was making. About the year 1124, 
Peter, abbot of La Ferte, had been chosen archbishop 
of Tarantaise, and with the consent of Stephen and the 
general chapter, had accepted it. Cistercian bishops 
were still bound to keep the rules of the order ; they 
did not wear the fur garments, with sleeves lined of a 
blood-red colour i, which scandalized St. Bernard, but 
they kept the abbot of the order covered with only a 
poor mantle lined with sheep-skin 2. In the two fol- 
lowing years France was astonished by the conversion 
of three of the most powerful prelates of the country. 
Henry, archbishop of Sens, Stephen, bishop of Paris, 
and the celebrated Suger, abbot of St. Denis. By 
conversion it is not meant that these men led vicious or 
immoral lives ; on the contrary, they were men whom 
it was impossible not to admire for the noble way in 
which they led what was then the better party in the 
state ; but they were ambitious and courtly men, half 
soldier or statesman, and the rest churchman. It was 
the time when the French royalty was, with the help of 
the Church, rousing itself; the king of France had been 
but a king in name, often pious and devout, but seldom 
great or intellectual. In England our Norman lords 
were the real heads of a feudal sovereignty ; they rule 
by right of conquest, and the barons were kept undeij 
by common fear of the Saxons. But the poor king ofl 

1 St. Bern, de OfF. Epis. 2. ^ j^st. Cap. Gen. 59. 

xviil] abbot suger. 165 

France, in his royal city of Paris, was hemmed in on 
all sides by dukes of Normandy, and counts of Anjou, 
Blois, and Flanders, a mere shadow of Charlemagne, 
very different from his wily, unscrupulous, powerful 
majesty of England, the fine clerk who held his brilliant 
court at Westminster. In Louis VI.'s time, however, 
the French monarchy began to develope itself ; he was 
an energetic, and in many respects an estimable prince, 
brought up in his youth in the abbey of St. Denis, and 
even at one time inclined to become a monk. He made 
common cause with the Church against the nobles, who 
were wholesale robbers of Church lands, and respected 
neither his royal crown nor the bishop's mitre. But 
what had monarchy to do with Stephen, or Stephen 
with monarchy, that his poor order should be brought 
into the affairs of the kingdom ? And yet, strange to 
say, it came across King Louis's plans by converting his 
minister. The very head of the political movement was 
won, when Suger's heart was touched by St. Bernard's 
burning words, and when the royal abbey of St. Denis 
was reformed by the example of the Cistercians. A 
noble heart was Suger*s, even while the world had too 
great a share in it. Nothing low or mean ever entered 
into it ; all, as even St. Bernard allows, that stained it, 
was too great a love of show and of worldly grandeur •'^. 
Who but that man of little stature, of piercing eye, and 
sagacious and withal upright heart, had, when provost 
of Toury, broken the power of Hugh of Puiset, that 
thorn in the side of the Church, who put lance in rest 
against the king himself? In his monkish cowl he 
rode into the town of Toury, even through the enemies 
who besieged it, and saved it for the king. No busi- 

3 St. Bern. Ep. 78. 


ness was safe unless Suger was in it ; his abbot Adam, 
and the king, both loved him, and sent him more than 
once even across the Alps ; and no wonder, for his elo- 
quence and learning was so great, that not only could 
he quote the Fathers, but even would repeat two or 
three hundred lines together of Horace by heart. He 
had once just quitted Pope Calixtus on one of these 
expeditions, and was on his way back to France at an 
inn, and had said matins at night, and had lain him 
down again to sleep, when he dreamed a dream — that 
he was at sea in a little boat tossed about by the waves, 
but was rescued by the help of the blessed martyr St. 
Denis. Then he went on his journey, and was pon- 
dering what it all meant, when he saw coming towards 
him a brother of the abbey, with a face of mingled sor- 
row and joy ; and the brother told that Abbot Adam 
was dead, that the monks had chosen him abbot of St. 
Denis, even without waiting for the king's leave, and 
that the king was very angry, and had put in prison 
some of the brethren. At this news Suger's heart was 
sad ; he loved his abbot dearly, and besides his brethren 
were in prison for his sake, and worst of all, he foresaw 
a contest between the king his master and the pope, 
about the liberty of election. However, the blessed 
martyr's prayers helped him through all, and the king 
confirmed the choice of the monks, and he was installed 
abbot of the first abbey in France. Then what a life 
was his when he was thus raised on high ! If a turbu- 
lent noble was to be put down, Suger was to be there ; 
on one occasion, when he was riding at the head of a 
body of soldiers to Orleans after his lord the king, he 
fell in with an officer of Hugh of Puiset, whom he took 
captive, and put securely into the abbey prison. Eome 
saw him in 1123 at the Lateran council; next year the 


Church of St. Denis showed a memorable scene. The 
emperor, stung with the excommunication pronounced 
against him at the council of Rheims, invaded France, 
the constant ally of the Church. Then the royalty of 
France plucked up heart, and the men of the country 
gathered round the king, and all together went to 
St. Denis, where Louis received the Oriflamme froni 
the hands of Suger at the high altar, with all the chi- 
valry of France standing around him. The cause of 
God's Church prevailed, and the emperor took himself 
back to Germany, without waiting to see the Oriflamme 
unfurled. This was all very well ; Suger was on the 
right side ; his policy was the best for France, which 
was thus slowly finding a bond of union in the king, 
and getting rid of the petty tyrants which disturbed it. 
Again, he was on the side of the Church, for these no- 
bles were its intolerable oppressors ; but still something 
was wanting to the abbot of St. Denis. The concerns 
of his soul were not prospering amidst this perpetual 
tumult. Its wear and tear fretted his body down, and 
" Abbot Suger," says a monk, " did not get fat as other 
abbots did*." The prayers of the Cistercians, however, 
were at work, and St. Bernard's words pricked his con- 
science. Indeed, an honest mind like his, could not be 
long in seeing that he looked very little like a churchman 
and a monk, as he rode at the head of troops, or moved 
in the brilliant train of a court. Besides, his own abbey 
was in a most miserable state : without believing the 
calumnies of Abelard, it is evident that it was as unlike 
a monastery as it could well be. It was thoroughly se- 
cularized ; this ancient sanctuary, once the very soul of 
the devotion of France, and the burial place of its kings, 
was now the centre of the business of the whole realm. 
* Vit. Sug. 2, 3. ap. Du Chesne. 


" Deftly and faithfully did Caesar get his own there ; 
but as for the things of God, they were not paid so 
faithfully to God^" Posts came rushing in from all 
quarters ; the cloister was often filled with armed men ; 
monks might be seen lounging about, idly talking with 
strangers, and even women were sometimes admitted 
within its precincts. No wonder that this scene raised 
Cistercian indignation ; but it was not long to continue 
so. Suger's was an honest heart ; he had been entan- 
gled by the force of circumstances, even from his youth, 
in secular affairs, and the hurry of business had pre- 
vented his looking about him. Now, however, that the 
fearful responsibility of the government of the abbey 
was upon him, it made him shudder. The Cistercian 
reform was spreading with a wildfire speed about him ; 
it was a declaration from heaven against his own most 
criminal neglect of the important charge which God 
had committed into his hands. His long troop of armed 
retainers, and his sumptuous habits, formed but a poor 
contrast to Stephen's paltry equipage, as he travelled 
about in his coarse white garment, with a monk or two 
and a lay-brother in his train. The soul of Suger 
sinks within him at the thought of his danger, and he 
determines to reform both himself and his abbey. If 
Citeaux had never done more than turn to God this 
noble heart, its labour would not have been thrown 
away. By thus suggesting the reform of St. Denis, it 
was conquering the very stronghold of worldliness ; it 
was purging the Church from the thorough seculariza- 
tion which a long mixture with the world had brought 
on. Oh ! how must Stephen's heart have leaped within 
him, when he thus saw his order doing his work. He 

5 St. Bernard, Ep. 78. 


would most cordially have joined in the devout gush 
of quiet joy with which Suger thanked God. " Amidst 
the recovery of the ancient lands of the Church, and the 
acquirement of new, the spread of this Church all around, 
the restoration or construction of its buildings, this is 
the chief, the most grateful, yea, the highest privilege 
which God in His mercy has given me, that He has 
fully reformed the holy order, the state of this holy 
Church, to His own honour and that of His saints 
in the same place, and has settled in peace the end 
and object of holy religion, by which man attains to 
the enjoyment of God, without causing scandal or 
trouble among the brethren, though they were all un- 
accustomed to it^." The conversion of Suger is in itself 
the justification of Stephen, in the rigid rules of poverty 
which he adopted at Citeaux ; it was the best way of 
gaining an upright heart, like that of the abbot of St. 
Denis, to put before him a clear and unquestionable 
example of holy poverty, which must reach him even 
in the whirl of secular business. France afterwards 
called him the father of his country, and it is to the 
influence of the Cistercian reform that he owed that 
single-hearted conscientiousness, and that habit of devo- 
tion, which kept him up, when he was afterwards regent 
of the whole realm. 

It is true, that in one particular he was not a disciple 
of Stephen; he could not bear poverty in the adorn- 
ment of churches ; it was not in his nature, and could 
not be helped. He even seems evidently to aim at his 
good friends at Citeaux, when he says, " Every man 
may have his own opinion ; I confess that what pleases 

® Vit. Lud. Grossi ap. Du Chesne, torn. iv. 31 1. 


me best is, that if there be anything more precious than 
another, yea most precious of all, it should serve to the 
ministration of the blessed Eucharist above all things." 
This difference between St. Denis and Citeaux was in 
after days curiously illustrated ; for Abbot Suger was 
pondering within himself how to get gems to adorn a 
magnificent crucifix on the high altar of the abbey 
church, when in came three abbots, among whom were 
my lord of Citeaux (probably Stephen's successor) and 
another Cistercian abbot, with such a store of jewels as 
he had never seen before. Thibault, count of Cham- 
pagne, another disciple of Citeaux, had out of love for 
holy poverty broken up two magnificent gold vases, and 
given them as alms to these abbots, and they came at 
once to St. Denis, knowing that they should be sure to 
find a market for them. Unlike the simple choir of 
Citeaux, the sanctuary of the royal abbey blazed with 
gold and jewels, with painting and sculpture ; there was 
the cross worked by Eligius the goldsmith-saint, and 
there were the jasper, the ruby, the sapphire, the eme- 
rald, and the topaz, "yea," says Suger, "all the pre- 
cious stones of old Tyre were its covering, save the 
carbuncle." All the crowns of the kings of France 
were there deposited after their death, on the shrine of 
the martyrs. Yet the abbot's delight in thus adorning 
the shrine of his Lord was utterly unmixed with selfish 
feeling, " for," he says, "it is most meet and right that 
with all things universally we should minister to our 
Kedeemer, who in all things without exception has 
mercifully deigned to provide for us, who has united 
our nature to His own in one admirable never to be 
divided Person, who, placing us in His right hand, has 
promised us that we shall verily possess His kingdom ; 


our Lord, who livetli and reigneth with the Father and 
the Holy Ghost, One God for ever and ever. Amen 7." 
It is instructive to see how the Cistercian influence ex- 
tended to persons whose minds were of a texture so 
diiferent from that of the abbot of Citeaux. However 
Stephen might have been scandalized with the unmonastic 
appearance of the high altar of St. Denis, he would have 
found a kindred spirit in its noble-minded abbot, a 
very Cistercian in simplicity, amidst all this splendour, 
"This man shames us all," said of Suger a certain 
abbot of Cluny, "he does not build for himself as we do, 
but for God only." With all his love for architecture, 
he built but one thing for himself, and that was a cell 
ten feet broad and fifteen long. Here was his little bed 
of straw, hid in the day time by handsome covering, 
but during the few hours that he lay there at night, it 
had nothing on it but the rough Cistercian Isena or 
woollen rug, which St. Alberic substituted for the many 
coverings of the Cluniac dormitory. Thus he lived, one 
of the most noble .conquests of Citeaux, and through 
whom, as he afterwards, when regent, had in his hands 
the appointment of every bishop in the realm, Stephen's 
love of poverty influenced most materially the whole 
Church of France. 

And what said King Louis, when this strange influence 
appeared in his own palace"? He was doing his best 
for the Church, and was the alliance between Church 
and State to be broken up, and his ecclesiastical friends 
to be taken from his very side, for the sake of a monk 
like Stephen? The king had patronized the Cister- 
cians, and, as appears from a letter written at this time^, 
had at some former period joined himself in a fraternity 

7 Adm. Sug. c. 32. « St. Bern. Ep. 45. 


of prayers with them ; but now that Henry of Sens, and 
Stephen of Paris, left his court to govern their flocks 
like good pastors, he began to think that Cistercian 
prayers were very well in their way, provided they did 
not convert his ministers. Annoyed by the conduct of 
the bishops, he took occasion of some cabal in the 
diocese of Paris, to seize upon the temporalities of the 
see ; and when the archbishop of Sens, as metropolitan 
of Paris, took the part of the bishop, he began also to 
persecute him. It appears that the king had partizans 
amongst the cardinals, and it was doubtful how the 
matter would turn out ; the poor bishop knew not where 
to find help, but he bethought himself that there was 
then sitting an assembly of fearless men who had 
nothing to expect from the world. He applied to the 
chapter of Citeaux for letters to the pope to recommend 
his cause. The abbots judged it best to write first to 
the king himself, and St. Bernard composed a letter in 
the name of the abbot of Citeaux, and his brethren 
assembled at their annual meeting. Here then was 
Stephen in direct opposition to kings and cardinals. 
Strange is the style of the opening of this bold epistle. 
"To the noble king of the Franks Louis, Stephen, 
abbot of Citeaux, and the whole assembly of Cistercian 
abbots and brethren, health, safety, and peace in Christ 
Jesus." The wooden crozier of Citeaux against the 
gold sceptre of the Louvre ! the match seems most 
unequal ; but the wooden crozier won the day at last. 
The cardinals hung back, and there came a decision 
from Rome in favour of the king, and all seemed to be 
prospering on his side. But there was still a party 
unsatisfied, which had sprung up silently and impercep- 
tibly around the king, and whose influence now began 
to be felt across the Alps. Its wishes must henceforth 


form an item in the consultation of popes and kings. 
St. Bernard and Hugh of Pontigny cry aloud to the 
pope himself in spite of the murmers of some of the 
cardinals, who loved not such importunate partizans of 
justice. At last the Holy See interfered in the bishop's 
favour, at or about the time of the council of Troyes, 
1128, at vrhich Stephen and St. Bernard were both 
present 9. Shortly afterwards, Stephen, with the abbots 
of Clairvaux and Pontigny, wrote to the pope in favour 
of the archbishop of Sens, whom King Louis was still 
persecuting. They were an uncompromising set of men, 
whom nothing could satisfy, till the oppressed was deli- 
vered from the tyranny of his oppressor ; these Cister- 
cian frogs would croak out of their marshes i^, and would 
not hold their peace, for all the bitter complaints of the 
cardinals, whose rest was sadly disturbed by their noise. 
They must needs be at the bottom of every movement in 
the Church, with their importunate poverty. Even the 
warlike Templars felt its influence, and clothed them- 
selves in their white cloaks " without arrogance or super- 
fluity," and in plain armour, with horse-trappings 
unadorned with gold and silver. They were first made 
an order at the council of Troyes, in the presence of 
Stephen, and each provincial master of the Temple took 
an oath, that he would defend all religious, but, above 
all, Cistercian monks and their abbots, as being their 
brethren and fellows. 

^ Mabillon's notes on St. Bernard, Ep. 45. 
10 St. Bern. Ep. 48. 

174 ST. STEPHEN, ABBOT. [cil. 



The Cistercian influence had, however, not reached 
its height even at the council of Trojes : two years after 
occurred the schism of Anacletus, the decision of which 
in favour of Innocent II. was, under God, entirely 
owing to St. Bernard. The question did not originate 
in a mere quarrel between two parties amongst the cardi- 
nals. The election of Innocent II. was a bold innovation, 
by which the turbulent people of Rome were excluded 
from any share in choosing the supreme pontiffs. 
There were many wild and unscrupulous barons in 
Europe, but a Frangipani, a Collonna, or a count of 
Tusculum could match them all. The very last election 
of Honorius II. had been brought about by a notorious 
trick of a Frangipani ; and a short time before, Gelasius, 
in leaving Rome, had said solemnly, that if so be, he 
had rather fall into the hands of one emperor than of 
so many. The cardinals, who in this case had elected 
pope Innocent, met together without the knowledge not 
only of the Roman clergy and people, but even of a 
very large part of the sacred college. This they did, 
says Suger, for fear of the turbulent Romans. Hence, 
not only the election of Petrus Leonis the antipope, but 
even of the real successor of St. Peter was informal ; it 
required the subsequent voice of Christendom to consti- 
tute Innocent the rightful pope. The impression left on 
the mind by Suger's clear, statesman-like view of the 
* Lupus, torn. V. p. 69. 


transaction is, that of the two elections that of Peter 
was the more formal ; and he adds that the council of 
Etampes in its decision inquired more about the cha- 
racter than the election of the candidates. The cardinals 
of Innocent's party had, however, another and a cogent 
reason for proceeding thus surreptitiously in the election. 
" They elected Innocent," says an old chronicler, " with 
too great haste, as some think, in order to exclude Peter, 
who seemed to aim at the popedom on secular grounds 2." 
They were the religious party amongst the cardinals, 
and they dreaded the election of Peter, who " placed 
not God for his help, but trusted in the multitude of his 
riches, in the power of his relations, and in the strength 
of his fortifications." He was the head of the secular 
party in the Church, and at a time when the struggle 
with the emperor on the subject of investitures was but 
just over, and when the pride and luxury which a long 
sojourn in kings' courts had introduced were rampant 
in the very sanctuary, his elevation might have been 
productive of the worst results. He had at one time 
been a monk of Cluny, but had been recalled to Rome 
by Pascal II., who made him a cardinal. From that 
time he had been actively employed as a legate by the 
papal court, and in this occupation had added enor- 
mous wealth to the already large property of his family, 
originally of Jewish extraction. He was one of those 
purple "satraps, lovers of majesty rather than lovers of 
truth," whom St. Bernard calls "wolves;'* companions 
not of the ^^ successors of St. Peter, but of Constantino," 
followers of the pope in the time of triumph, when he 
rode on a white horse, adorned with gems and gold, not 
of " the vicar of Christ, the hammer of tyrants and the 
refuge of the oppressed 3." The cause of Innocent was 
^ Chron. Maurin. ap. Du Chesne. ^ j)g Consid. lib. iv. 


therefore that of holy poverty, and it was taken up by all 
the new monastic orders which sprang up about this time 
to the edification of the Church, as also by the most 
flourishing of the ancient convents. " The Camaldolese/' 
says St. Bernard, "they of Vallombrosa, the Carthu- 
sians, Cluniacs, and they of the Great Monastery, my 
own Cistercians too, the monks of Caen, of Tiron, and 
Savigny, in a word, all together and with one heart, the 
brethren, whether monks or clerks, who lead a regular 
life and are of approved conversation, all following the 
bishops as sheep their pastors, adhere firmly to Inno- 
cent." St. Bernard does not here say whom the pastors 
themselves followed, but it was plain to every one else 
that he himself led the Catholic world. All the bishops 
of France, with king Louis, were assembled at Etampes, 
to decide on this question of vital importance, even to 
the existence of the Catholic Church ; but the abbot 
of Clairvaux was not there, and nothing could be done 
without him. He came at their bidding, trembling, and 
with a heart beating with fear; but God reassured his 
servant in a dream, showing him a vast Church with one 
accord praising God. When he arrived, the whole 
assembly with one voice declared that Bernard should 
decide. Calmly, but still with trembling, the servant 
of God examined the manner of the election, the merits 
of the electors, and the life and character of the can- 
didates, and then with a royal heart, trusting in the 
help of God, he pronounced aloud that Innocent was 
pope ; and the whole assembly received his decision 
without any doubt, believing that he spoke by the Holy 
Ghost. It does not come within our subject to say how 
St. Bernard went about, and by his very presence and 
energetic words turned the hearts of all the kings of 
Europe to Innocent, the wily Beau Clerc Henry, the 


hesitating Lothaire, even at last the wild boar of Aqui- 
taine, — how he bowed the soul of Christendom, as the 
soul of one man, and placed the successor of St. Peter 
in his rightful chair, in the teeth of Roger of Sicily, with 
his new crown, and all his Normans. Stephen of course 
followed his illustrious disciple j the success of Innocent 
was the consummation of the triumph of holy poverty, 
in which he had led the way; and he cheerfully and 
gladly now gave up the cause into the hands of St. Ber- 
nard. While the saint was travelling over land and sea 
for the peace of the Church, and to his regret was obliged 
to leave his beloved Clairvaux, Stephen remained quiet- 
ly in his own abbey, continuing to rule his order. Inno- 
cent, however, did not confine his love for Cistercians to 
St. Bernard. He addressed to Stephen a letter, in which 
he calls him "his dear son in the Lord^' and grants 
to him and to his successors for ever two important 
privileges. They appear from the terms of the grant 
to have been given at Stephen's own request, and both 
are certainly the result of the action of his own princi- 
ples. His notion of a monastery was a place devoted 

* This document is found in Manriquez, An. 1132. 1. 5; 
it is dated Cluny, February 10 ; another, dated Lyons on the 
17th of the same month, is found among St. Bernard's works. 
They were given by Innocent on his way from France back into 
Italy. It is singular that these two documents are dated accord- 
ing to two different modes of calculation. The privilege granted 
to St. Stephen, though it was prior to the other, is dated 1132, 
whilst that granted to St. Bernard is dated 1131 ; the reason is, 
because in the latter the year is reckoned to begin on the 25th 
of March, in the former, on the 1st of January. Mabillon, over- 
looking this, has given 1131 instead of 1132 as the date of the 
privilege given to St. Bernard ; as Innocent dated his years from 
his election, the 1 5th of February, 1130, a document signed on 
the 17th of February, in his third year, must be referred to 1132, 
according to our calculation. 


178 ST. STEPHEN, ABBOT. [cil. 

to contemplation, where the noise and the cares of the 
world could not penetrate. He wished his monks to 
know nothing of the bickerings, and the lawsuits, and 
the selfishness, which were all going on beyond the 
cloister ; a short time before he had himself been drawn 
away from Citeaux, to settle a quarrel between the 
abbeys of St. Seine and of St. Stephen of Dijon. One 
privilege therefore, granted to all Cistercian abbots, was 
concluded in these terms, "And because, where the 
Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, that ye may be 
able with the greater freedom to follow out the service 
of God, and with the clear vision of the soul to dwell 
at peace in contemplation, we forbid that any bishop or 
archbishop should compel thee, or thy successors, or any 
abbot of the Cistercian order, to come to a council or 
synod, save on account of the faith." Stephen, however, 
not only wished his monks to be out of the way of the 
quarrels of their neighbours, but also to be independent 
of worldly cares. The intention of St. Benedict was, 
that a monk should be a poor man, living on the labour 
of his own hands ; he did not, however, wish him to be 
in abject penury ; the monastery was to possess all 
necessaries within its walls, so that nothing need be 
sought for out of the cloister. Stephen had more than 
once been himself reduced to a state of real want, and 
had stoutly braved it out, with a few energetic spirits 
about him. Now, however, that Citeaux was a large 
community, and the head of a flourishing order, the case 
was widely different ; there are, comparatively, many 
who can live on coarse bread and vegetables, but very 
few have the heroic patience necessary to struggle under 
the pressure of want. The soul of conventual life is 
regularity, which must disappear when the brethren are 
obliged to make shifts to obtain absolute necessaries. 


Though Citeaux was not now in danger of so sad a 
plight, it was a hard matter for the brother cellarer to 
make both ends meet. The Cistercians had renounced 
most of the sources of revenue by which other convents 
were maintained. There was nothing to attract seculars 
into their churches ; no public masses, no shrines of gold 
and silver. Their property consisted entirely in land, 
of which they sold the produce ; before, however, it 
could be brought into cultivation, granges were to be 
erected, and live stock to be bought, and much hard 
labour to be expended. Thus the more land was given 
to them, the more their expenses increased ; and after 
all there came round the tithe collector, claiming so 
much for the parish priest or for the brethren, of a cer- 
tain monastery, to whom the tithes of the parish belonged. 
It should be remembered that they had themselves 
renounced all tithes and ecclesiastical property, which 
was the chief source of revenue in many monasteries, 
where the brethren never worked with their own hands ; 
besides which, the lands which were given to them were 
often waste and uncultivated, covered with a rank 
growth of entangled wood, or else mere marshy pools, 
the haunts of the heron and the bittern, and which con- 
sequently had never paid tithes at all. Considering the 
poverty of the Cistercians, Innocent freed them from 
the payment of all tithes. This was no new privilege ; 
all the monasteries of Thuringia, and amongst them the 
great abbey of Fulda, were at one time exempt from 
tithes ; and the archbishop of Metz, though he claimed 
tithes from them, allowed that such privileges were 
granted to rising monasteries. A short time before the 
rise of Citeaux, the same favour was accorded to the 
Knights Hospitallers in consideration of their poverty. 
Again, Peter of Blois, strongly as he reprobated the 


continuance of the privilege when the order had grown 
powerful, and had been placed above all the diffi- 
culties which its very fecundity, astonishing as it was, 
at first entailed upon it, allowed that at first it was 
necessary. Reasonable, however, as was Innocent's 
grant it raised a tempest about Stephen and his poor 
Cistercians, which it took many a long year to allay. 
Enough has been said to show that the Cistercian 
movement, being in all respects a reformation, would 
be most likely to meet with opposition from the older 
monastic institutions. There had long been heart-burn- 
ings between Cluny and Citeaux ; an ancient and flou- 
rishing order like that of Cluny, with all its imposing 
dignity, and its religious magnificence, could not but 
stand reproved before the elastic spirit and young life 
which were developing from the obscure convent of 
Citeaux. It might be venerable and beautiful, but 
there was a vigour in the uncompromising fervour of 
the new order, and an unencumbered grace in its holy 
poverty, which was sure to attract all the ardent spirits 
in the Church. Hence many a promising monk passed 
over to the Cistercians, and left sore displeasure behind 
him among his brethren, to whom his fervour seemed to 
be a reproach. Around the ancient monasteries there 
arose everywhere new institutions, not hallowed by time 
and adorned by the piety of kings, but carrying with them 
the hearts of the people by the sanctity of their inmates. 
This new privilege granted by Innocent caused all this 
smothered flame to burst out; a Cluniac monastery, 
that of Gigny in Champagne, refused to allow its neigh- 
bour, the house of Miroir, to take advantage of the privi- 
lege, and still exacted the tithes in the teeth of the autho- 
rity of the Holy See. It was for this contumacy put 
under an interdict, in consequence of which the whole 


Cluniac order was up in arms. It was fortunate that Pon- 
tius had ceased to be abbot of Cluny, and that Peter the 
Venerable now ruled over the order. From his position 
Peter was obliged to support the vast body of which he 
was the ruler ; he therefore addressed a letter of sharp 
remonstrance to the chapter of Citeaux, and did his best 
to get the privilege reversed at the papal court ; he 
however never for a moment lost the unbounded 
love which he felt for the great men who were at the 
head of this new movement in the Church. The next 
year, fearing lest his former letter should have been too 
severe, he wrote to the assembled chapter, to protest that 
he had the real interests of peace in his heart, when he 
wrote that letter, and concludes with saying, " I rest in 
peace and I will rest on you. I rejoice and I will rejoice 
in you, yea, though injured, I will not depart from you." 
From the really Christian spirit of this noble minded 
man, a real love was maintained among the higher 
authorities of the two orders ; among the inferior mem- 
bers there was, it must be confessed, on the Cistercian side 
often a Puritanical adhesion to the letter of the rule, and, 
on the Cluniac, a most unchristian tone of jealousy and 
mistrust. But the most perfect harmony prevailed 
between the abbot of Cluny and the ruling body of 
Citeaux, with Stephen at their head. It was not that 
Peter did not feel a most filial affection for the noble 
monastery in which he had learned to know Christ, and 
over which he now ruled ; nor did he fail to be really 
and acutely pained when the force of circumstances 
necessarily placed him in collision with the Cistercians. 
But notwithstanding the blows which he thus received 
in his most tender affections, he ever maintained an un- 
bounded reverence for this new institution which God, 
through Stephen s means, had raised in the Church. He 


was content that his light should wane while Stephen, 
whom the world would call his rival, increased in power 
and influence every day. Above all, he rejoiced with 
enthusiasm in St Bernard's sanctity, and even kissed his 
letters when they appeared, to gladden his heart ; he 
seems to repose in perfect confidence, as it were on the 
bosom of a friend, when he writes to the saint ; he ex- 
ercises his playful and polished wit on these occasions, 
professing that he feels quite secure, in thus giving loose 
to his cheerfulness in his letters to his dear friend ; and 
St. Bernard in return compliments him by saying, that 
he at least could indulge his wit without sin. He 
strenuously set about reforming his order ; and so far 
from being angered by St. Bernard's indignant remon- 
strances in his Apology, his new statutes adopt, as far as 
possible, all the suggestions contained in that celebrated 
treatise. Some of his reforms are evidently taken from 
Cistercian regulations, and especially from those made 
by Stephen himself. Crucifixes of wood were ordered 
to be used instead of the precious metals, when the holy 
rood was applied to the lips of a dying monk^ ; it was 
not a cross of gold or silver, but a cross of wood which 
redeemed the world. Again the magnificent candle- 
stick of Cluny, which scandalized Cistercian simplicity, 
was not to be lighted up except on the great festivals ; at 
other times iron candlesticks were to be used^. Thus 
did Stephen's influence extend even to Cluny, notwith- 
standing the angry monks. The quarrels on the subject 
of tithes lasted many years even after Stephen's death, 
but it never destroyed the harmony which prevailed 
between Peter the Venerable and his friends of the 
chapter of Citeaux. 

5 Stat. 62. 6 Stat. 52. 




Since the admission of St. Bernard into Citeaux, the 
life of Stephen has been that of his order. History only 
speaks of him occasionally as a monastic legislator, or as 
the founder of some new convent. The lord abbot of 
Citeaux appears sometimes amongst the signatures at- 
tached to a council, or to some document which the 
labour of the Benedictines has brought from the chartu- 
lary of a convent. It is well that it should be so, for the 
great order of Citeaux was Stephen's structure, and on 
that his noble work his claims to the veneration of the 
faithful rest. We now, however, come to a part where 
he is put forward exclusively; his long and laborious 
life is now drawing to a close. It comes suddenly upon 
the reader of the Cistercian Annalist, and takes him by 
surprise to find that the chapter to which Peter the Yene- 
rable's letter was addressed was the last held by Stephen. 
No data are given in his history to ascertain his age ; so 
that his years go on silently, numbered by those of 
Citeaux, and it seems strange that all at once, when his 
order is in the height of prosperity, his life, which was 
the moving principle of the whole, should come to an 
end. Yet so it is even with the greatest saints ; man 
goeth to his labour until the evening, and then leaves it 
unfinished, and goes home to rest in the grave. At the 
chapter of 1133, the year after the privilege was granted 
to the Cistercians by Innocent, when, says the Exordium, 


"our blessed father, Stephen, had stoutly administered the 
office committed to him, according to the true rule of 
humility given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ, when he 
was worn out with old age, and his eyes were blind, so 
that he could not see, he laid aside his pastoral charge, 
wishing to think in peace on God, and on himself through 
the sweet taste of holy contemplation." This is the first 
word that is said of Stephen's old age, and up to this 
time we might have fancied him as vigorous as ever, with 
his eyesight clear, and his faculties unimpaired. But 
although his eyes had failed, and his body was in dark- 
ness, yet the vision of his soul was as bright as ever ; he 
was still to the last the Cistercian contemplative, who 
had fled to the forest, and to the desert, to dwell with God 
alone. Before, however, his soul was freed from its earthly 
tabernacle, Stephen had still a trial to undergo; God 
willed that his saint should die with his arms in his 
hands. The electors to whose task it fell to choose a 
successor, on Stephen's resignation, pitched upon a man 
who was utterly unworthy to succeed him. Wido, abbot 
of Three Fountains, had by some means deceived men 
into an opinion of his sanctity, and though, as the Ex- 
ordium calls him, he was but a whited sepulchre, the 
abbots pitched upon him to govern the abbey and the 
whole order. Stephen knew what sort of a man he was ; 
it is even said, that God specially revealed to him the 
wickedness of this new abbot. By that wonderful 
inward vision which God sometimes grants his saints, he 
could see his successor receiving the profession of the 
monks, though his outward eye was blind ; when lo ! 
God showed him the evil spirit entering in at his mouth, 
as he sat on high amidst the brethren, coming one by 
one to do him reverence. Stephen, however, remained 
still ; he felt sure that God would not abandon the rising 


order, and he did not choose to take upon him again a 
government which he had just laid down, by interfering 
with the free choice of the monks. St. Bernard was ab- 
sent in Italy, and therefore he could not apply to him ; 
in full trust therefore upon God, he waited till the de- 
signs of Providence should manifest themselves. With 
this dreadful secret on his mind he held his peace. He 
had not long to wait, for " scarcely had one month 
passed away, when by the revelation of the Lord his 
uncleanness was laid bare, and this bastard plant which 
the heavenly Father had not planted was rooted out of 
Paradise." What was the sin of Wido is not known, 
and his name does not even occur in the common cata- 
logue of Cistercian abbots ; the brethren seem to have 
tried to sink his memory in oblivion. He was succeed- 
ed by Eainaldus, a monk of Clairvaux, and a man in 
whose hands Stephen rejoiced to leave his order. His 
work was now done upon earth, and his strength was fast 
sinking ; he did not live many months after Rainaldus 
was elected. It is not known whether his illness was 
short or lingering, but the Exordium gives the following 
account of the death-bed of the man of God. " As the 
time approached when the old man lying on his bed, 
was, after his labours were over, to be brought into the 
joy of the Lord, and from the lowest room of poverty, 
which he had chosen in the world, according to the 
counsel of our Saviour, was about to mount up to the 
banquet of the Father of the family on high, there met 
together, besides others, certain brethren, abbots of his 
order, to accompany, by their most dutiful services and 
prayers, their faithful friend and most lowly Father, thus 
on his way to his home. And when he was in his last 
agony and was near death, the brethren began to talk 
together, and to call him blessed : being a man of such 


merit, thej said that he could go securely to God, who 
had in his time brought so much fruit to the Church of 
God. He heard this, and gathering together his breath 
as he could, said with a half-reproachful voice, What 
is it that ye are saying ? Verily, I say to you, that I am 
going to God as trembling and anxious as if I had never 
done any good. For if there has been any good in me, 
and if any fruit has come forth through my littleness, it 
was through the help of the grace of God, and I fear 
and tremble much, lest perchance I have kept that grace 
less worthily and less humbly than I ought. Beneath 
this shield of the perfect lowliness which sounded on his 
lips, and grew deep in his heart, he put off the old man, 
and putting aside in his might all the most wicked darts 
of the enemy, fiery and sulphurous though they were, he 
passed with ease the airy region of storms, and mounted 
up and was crowned at the gate of Paradise.*' It was 
on the 28th of March, 1134, that Stephen quitted this 
weary life to join St. Robert and St. Alberic, whom he 
had so long survived. The 17th of April, on which his 
name occurs in the Martyrology, and which was his 
festival, was probably the day of his canonization. His 
day is not now remembered amongst us ; many will not 
even have heard of his name, and those who have heard 
of him, may possibly be surprised to find that he was an 
Englishman. He eyes were probably never gladdened 
with a sight of the green fields of merry England, ever 
since he quitted his monastery of Sherborne to study 
at Paris. Yet his country may be proud to own this 
great saint. He was the spiritual father of St. Bernard, 
and w^as, it may be said, the principal founder of the 
Order of Cistercians. Before he died he had founded 
twenty monasteries of the line of Citeaux ; the number 
of houses of the whole order was upwards of ninety. 


St. Stephen was in character a very Englishman ; his life 
has that strange mixture of repose and of action which 
characterises England. Contemplative and ascetic as 
he was, he was still in his way a man of action ; he had 
the head to plan, and the calm, unbending energy to 
execute a great work. His very countenance, if we may 
trust his contemporary the monk of Malmesbury, was 
English ; he was courteous in speech, blithe in counte- 
nance, with a soul ever joyful in the Lord^. His order 
seems to have thriven in St. Stephen's native air ; most 
of our great abbeys, Tintern, E-ievaux, Fountains, Fur- 
ness, and Netley, which are now known by their beau- 
tiful ruins, were Cistercian. The Order took to itself 
all the quiet nooks and valleys, and all the pleasant 
streams of old England, and gladdened the soul of the 
labourer by its constant bells. Its agricultural character 
was peculiarly suited to the country, though it took its 
birth beyond the seas. Doubtless St. Stephen, when he 
was working under the hot sun of France, often thought 
of the harvest moon and the ripe corn-fields of his native 
land. May his prayers now be heard before the throne 
of grace, for that dear country now lying under the 
wrath of God for the sins of its children. " Pray ye 
for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love 
thee." Oh ! Lord, our " eyes long sore for Thy word ; 
oh 1 when wilt Thou comfort " us ! " Comfort us again 
now afier the time that Thou hast plagued us, and for 
the years wherein we have suffered adversity." " Then 
shall the earth bring forth her increase, and God, even 
our own God, shall give us his blessing." 

^ Gesta Reg. Angl. lib. 4. 



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